COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—Perhaps the brightest star of the Colorado Avalanche preseason has been backup goaltender Reto Berra. The 27-year-old Swiss puck stopper has seen his share of exhibition minutes, having started in four of Colorado’s seven contests to date, and it appears that he is more than ready to share the workload with No. 1 netminder Semyon Varlamov.
Berra has built on a string of strong performances in net throughout late September and early October, becoming bolder and more confident as he makes save after save, game after game.
Berra’s talent was on full display as the Avalanche and the Los Angeles Kings entered overtime deadlocked 1-1 at the Broadmoor World Arena. He was sturdy, dependable and gave his team the best chance at getting its first win of the preseason.
“He played really well. I thought, in the first, he gave us a chance to stay in that game and then, in the second and third, we finally saw our team. We competed better,” said Roy. “That’s the type of hockey we want to see us playing.”
Berra turned aside 42 of the Kings’ 43 shots through 65 minutes of play, including 20 in the opening frame, posting a .976 save percentage and forcing a star-studded skills competition in the form of a shootout in front of the adrenalized Colorado crowd.
“He played great. You know what, he really showed improvement over the offseason and came in great shape for the camp and certainly played well tonight,” said Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog after the club fell 2-1. “Shootouts. It’s always a coin toss.”
Though his club didn’t come away the victory, Berra received nothing but praise for all of the work that he’s put in, including from his coach, a Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender himself.
“A lot of people had question marks on him, and I think he did exactly what he had to do to make everybody comfortable and believe in him and trust in him,” said Roy following Thursday night’s contest. “When Varly’s going to have to take a night off, he’ll be able to give us some good hockey.”
A Special Effort
A total of 13 penalties—seven on the Kings, six on the Avs—were called in Thursday night’s match, amounting to 26 minutes total when the dust settled. This allowed both sides to really work on special teams at both ends, and created a handful of scoring opportunities each way.
The Avalanche held Los Angeles to 0-for-4 on the night while also finding a momentum shifting power play tally with just 14 seconds left in the first period, a frame in which the Avs were largely outworked.
“It’s always big to win the special teams battle and I think, tonight, our P.K. played well and our power play got one,” said Maxime Talbot, who scored the goal on Kings netminder Jonathan Quick.
The Avalanche excelled at moving the puck around, creating chances and controlling the play while on the man advantage, and followed that up with a huge penalty kill in overtime to keep the game alive.
“I thought our P.K. did an amazing job tonight, shut them out, and their P.K. did a good job too,” said center Nathan MacKinnon. “Our power play looked good, I thought. We’re right there.”
The Avalanche have Friday off before a rematch against the Kings at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The game will be aired on NHL Network. The puck drops at 8 p.m. MT.