CALGARY, Alberta--Head coach Jared Bednar says Andre Burakovsky has one of the best shots on the team, and right now the first-year Colorado Avalanche forward is being rewarded for it.
Burakovsky scored twice in the opening period on Tuesday night to give the Avs an early lead in a 3-2 victory at the Calgary Flames. The tallies are Burakovsky's ninth and 10th of the campaign, two shy of the total he's produced in each of the last three years.
"He can fire it. He can get it away quick," Bednar said. "I think there are times when he overhandles it, looking for something better. I would like to see him shoot it a little bit more. He's aware of that. I think it's just habitual for him. I think he has as good of a shot as anyone on our team, and we need to see him keep using it more. Keep getting himself in those areas. It is something that he has been working on, and he's starting to score a little more because he's using it more."
Burakovsky now has goals in three straight contests, tied for his third-longest goal streak of his career. His five tallies in that time marks one the best stretches of his six-season NHL career, with only his six he scored during his career-long five-game streak while a member of the Washington Capitals being better (Jan. 19-Feb. 6, 2016).
Video: COL@CGY: MacKinnon sets up Burakovsky on the rush
Acquired in an offseason trade with the Capitals, the Swedish forward has now registered multi-point performances in each of the last three games. He also had two goals on Thursday in a loss to the Edmonton Oilers and registered a tally and helper on Saturday in an OT win at the Vancouver Canucks.
"I've been playing with great players, and they've been giving me a lot of looks," Burakovsky said of his recent stretch. "I think I'm putting a little more pucks to the net than usual, than what I used do. It's been working out that way. The more I shoot, the more opportunities that I have to score."
Burakovsky has played up and down the Avs' lineup in the first 21 contests of the year and was the left wing on Nathan MacKinnon's line on Tuesday. MacKinnon has assists on Burakovsky's last three goals.
Video: Andre Burakovsky on his two-goal night in Calgary
His first tally on Tuesday came after MacKinnon fed him the puck while he was wide open on the left side at 3:21 of the first period. The second marker came after MacKinnon won an offensive-zone faceoff that led to Burakovsky's snipe that went short-side top shelf with 1:35 left before the initial intermission.
"When you play with him, the challenge for other guys is to find the open ice because when you do the puck is going to come," Burakovsky said of receiving passes from MacKinnon. "I think that first play he made for me tonight, I came from behind, I don't know but I think he had a pretty good look to shoot too, and he just whiffed it over to me. I got a good look from it. You just got to find ice and get ready for the puck."
Video: COL@CGY: Burakovsky rips it top shelf for second goal
With the Avalanche having several key players out of the lineup due to injury, it has put the onus on others on the club to step up. Recently, it has been Burakovsky's turn as his play has helped Colorado win five of its last six games and remain one of the top clubs in the Central Division.
The Avalanche held off the Flames, which scored two straight but couldn't erase a three-goal deficit after Vladislav Kamenev tallied for Colorado in the second period.
"We stayed patient. They came hard," Burakovsky said. "They had a lot of long O-zone shifts on us. In a perfect world, we want to eliminate that. Get the puck out quicker, a little bit cleaner breakouts and not complicate it too much for ourselves. Overall, we're battling down there, we're blocking shots, we're paying the price to get two points, and that's what you have to do."
Philipp Grubauer returned to the lineup after being out for the past two weeks with a lower-body injury but didn't look out of place in between the pipes.
The Avalanche goaltender stopped 31 of 33 shots, including the first 23 he faced.
"It's nice to get back in there. It's tough to watch when you miss a couple games," Grubauer said. "It's almost more nerve-wracking sitting out and watching the guys playing on the ice than it is playing. It was nice to get out there and get the win."
Video: Philipp Grubauer returns to the Avs lineup
Grubauer missed five games with an injury that had been bothering him a bit for a few games prior. He had last played on Nov. 5 at the Dallas Stars.
"I thought he was really good. Made some big saves when he had to," said head coach Jared Bednar of Grubauer. "[We] had a few breakdowns, especially on the penalty kill, and he made a couple big saves. Late in the game, he made a few as well. It was a good return from him. It's good to have him back."
Backup netminder Pavel Francouz is also healthy and cleared to play after suffering a concussion on Nov. 12 at Winnipeg. Earlier in the day, the Avs reassigned goaltending prospects Antoine Bibeau and Adam Werner, who were called up last week to help aid Colorado's injured netminders.
THE CALGARIAN RETURN
Cale Makar played his first regular-season game in his hometown in front of a boatload of family and friends. He gave them something to cheer about early as he had an assist on the game's opening goal at 3:21 of the first period.
The helper gives Makar 23 points on the season, which ranks tied for second among all defensemen in the NHL behind Washington's John Carlson (35). He also now has 13 points in November, setting a franchise record for scoring by a rookie rear guard in a single month. The Quebec Nordiques' Pierre Lacroix held the previous mark of 12 points in March 1980.
Makar finished his first Western Canada swing with six points (one goal, five assists) in four games and has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in the past seven contests.
Avs forward Logan O'Connor also grew up in Calgary and made his season debut at home as well. He played a career-high 7:45 in his second NHL contest at the Saddledome.