Cale Makar is skating in his first NHL season, but he isn't showing any signs that he is a rookie through his first 17 games.
The defenseman scored twice in the second period on Saturday to record his first multi-goal game, helping the Colorado Avalanche earn a 4-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Pepsi Center.
He now has 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) on the campaign, which leads all first-year players and ranks tied for third among all D-men in the league.
Video: CBJ@COL: Makar roofs wrist shot past Korpisalo
The 21-year-old's first goal of the night tied the contest at 2-2 midway through the second period. He received a pass from Ryan Graves in the circle and sent a wrist shot over the glove of Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo.
His second of the contest came after he took a pass from Tyson Jost on a 2-on-1 and fired the puck five-hole. It gave the Avs the lead and stood as the game-winning tally, the first game-winner of his career in the regular season.
"Unreal pass by Josty, I think I just panicked a little bit," Makar said of his second marker. "I thought, since it was so early, I thought the goalie was going to be over in time, but when I looked up I had the whole net so I kind of just froze and didn't know what to do. Luckily I was able to put it in."
Video: CBJ@COL: Makar slips shot five-hole for second goal
Makar is the 10th defenseman in Colorado history (since 1995-96) to score twice in a period and the first Avalanche rookie rear guard to record two goals in a game since the team relocated to Denver. However, he is quick to acknowledge and praise the effort of his teammates.
"I mean I don't think I really played too well, those goals are just a credit to guys," he said. "I mean the second one, Josty gave me an unreal pass and fortunately that went in, and the first one, we just had good traffic and a great pass from Gravy. So all the credit goes to them."
Makar may not have thought that he was playing his best, but his coach liked what he saw.
"You got to do what you got to do, you need guys to step up, I thought Cale Makar was really good tonight," said head coach Jared Bednar. "He steps up in a big way. We chip in enough goals. To be honest with you, I liked our offensive game again…. We found a way to be opportunistic a little bit and score enough goals and our goalie came up big after letting in the one at the end of the first."
The Calgary, Alberta, native is just the third first-year blueliner in franchise history to score twice in a game, joining Pierre Lacroix, who did it twice (Nov. 20, 1979 versus Boston and Jan. 27, 1980 versus Detroit), and Bruce Bell (Jan. 24, 1985 versus Montreal).
He is also the fourth D-man in Avalanche/Nordiques history to record a multi-goal game before his 22nd birthday, as Bryan Fogarty (Dec. 1, 1990), Bell (Jan. 24, 1985) and Lacroix (Nov. 20, 1979 and Jan. 27, 1980) also accomplished the feat.
Video: Cale Makar on first career two-goal game
Makar's pair of tallies also came the game after he scored his second of the season, marking the first time in his young career that he has scored in back-to-back outings.
During those two contests, Colorado has had five goals from defensemen and three of those have come off of Makar's stick. Makar and Ryan Graves found the back of the net in a 9-4 win versus the Nashville Predators on Thursday and Samuel Girard also added one on Saturday.
"They did a nice job getting pucks to the net, they did a nice job identifying open passes both in the neutral zone and offensive zone, and getting up and being part of it," Bednar noted of his defensive group's help offensively over the last two games. "Obviously, Cale was a big part of that tonight and [against Nashville], along with Graves so we need that.
"It takes five guys to create offense in this league now. You can't just send your forwards into five guys and expect them to be able to create goals and points, so you have to have other guys that are up and a part of it on the rush and be a part of it in the offensive zone too with good awareness and making plays and shooting pucks. So we have done that the last couple games, and it's helped us get the two wins."
Makar is on a three-game point streak, and he has registered six points (three goals, three assists) in that time frame. He opened his NHL career with a five-game point streak from Oct. 3-14, tying for the second-longest by a blueliner to begin a career in NHL history. He also had a four-game stretch from Oct. 19-26.
Video: Coach Jared Bednar after the win vs. Columbus
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare left the contest with 2:45 left in the second period after taking a hit from Nick Foligno, who was assessed a five-minute major penalty for charging and a game misconduct.
"You know what I know, he got elbowed there and left the game so we probably won't know more until tomorrow and see how he shows up," Bednar said of Bellemare's status.
Before the game, Bednar announced that defenseman Nikita Zadorov is week-to-week after having surgery on Friday to repair a broken jaw that he suffered on Thursday against the Nashville Predators.
Tyson Jost matched a career high with two assists, the third time that he has had multiple helpers in a contest.
Vladislav Kamenev extended his point streak to a career-long three games with an assist on Samuel Girard's first period goal.
Joonas Donskoi skated in his 300th NHL game. He has recorded 133 points (53 goals, 80 assists) in the league.
The Avalanche is 5-0-2 against the Eastern Conference this season.
Colorado has scored a power-play goal in each game of the homestand, going 3-for-8 (37.5 percent) over its last two outings.
The Avs depart for a five-game road trip on Monday with four stops in Canada. It will be Colorado's second trip of at least five games already this season, with one more to go. This campaign marks just the second time in franchise history that the club will have three road trips of at least five games (also 1999-00).