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Avs Show Complete Effort Versus Toronto

Rookie J.T. Compher scored the game-winning goal in overtime

by Callie Parmele /

The Colorado Avalanche utilized its depth and the top line continued producing in a 4-3 overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday.

Rookie forward J.T. Compher scored his third game-winning tally of his career and first overtime goal. The marker came with eight seconds remaining in a 4-on-3 situation as the Avs were on the power play in the extra frame.

"Great screen by [Alexander Kerfoot], [Samuel Girard] kept the puck in and just stuck with it," Compher said of his goal. "You want to try and end it when you have a power-play opportunity in overtime, and we were able to do that." 

The Avalanche had an additional skater after the Maple Leafs' Connor Brown interfered on a breakaway opportunity for Nathan MacKinnon 1:33 into the overtime session. 

Colorado registered four shots on net during the overtime power-play opportunity. As time with an extra skater was fading away, defenseman Girard chased down the puck while it was bouncing toward the blue line and sent it to Compher. 

Video: TOR@COL: Compher snipes PPG in OT for the win

"That was awesome by G. He has been playing really well lately," said MacKinnon. "It's nice to see him get rewarded with an assist. And, obviously it was an unbelievable release by Comph. He was coming left and went back right, not many guys can do that. It was a great shot."

During the first 60 minutes of the contest, the scoreboard tetter-tottered, with the Avs and Maple Leafs each scoring once in all three periods.

"Skating, we were on our toes, limited our chances against, our puck play and our puck decisions were really mature," said Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar. "We were a focused group, we were a determined group. I like the way we played. I know they answered back a couple times, but it didn't seem to rattle our team at all. We just kind of stuck with it."

The Avalanche came out strong, recording four shots on net in the first four minutes of the game. When Colorado scored its first goal of the matchup, Toronto still did not have a shot on net. At the end of the first period, the Avs had a 7-6 advantage in shots.

Video: J.T. Compher after scoring the game-winning goal

 "I don't think we played our best to start the game. I think we did early in the first, but they got into the way they want to play," said Compher. "I thought we came out in the third with real good energy and gave ourselves a real good chance to win, which we did."

MacKinnon scored the Avs first goal and assisted on the next two to record his fifth three-point game this season. He now ranks ninth in the NHL in scoring with 43 points (16 goals, 27 assists) in 37 outings. 

"It's a big game. I always find it exciting playing against big market teams," said MacKinnon. "I mean, it's always fun to play against those guys. I feel like there's 10-12 in the league that you really get pumped up for to play. You matchup against and you need to be careful. They have some good chances, but you have to limit them." 

Video: Nathan MacKinnon after 3-point game vs. Leafs

Kerfoot netted Colorado's third tally of the game after MacKinnon skated the puck into the offensive zone and found Nikita Zadorov at the top of the faceoff circle. Zadorov then passed to Kerfoot, who placed the puck top shelf.

"The Kerfoot goal, MacK drives it out, turns it up and really nice play by Zadorov," said Bednar. "I thought [Zadorov] had a handful of those tonight where he was up joining the play, but not in a dangerous way. Just surveying the ice in front of him, and he didn't get too deep. He was patient. He gets himself in a good spot and then he sees Kerfoot on the weak side of the ice. It was a great shot by Kerf, but probably an even better pass by Z."

Eight Colorado skaters recorded a point and goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 31 saves in the victory.

"I think it was a great 60 minutes we played," said Mikko Rantanen. "We had a lot of chances, and Varly played great at the net. I think every guy had a great game and we got the two points, which is the most important thing."

Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar after the win vs. Leafs


Defenseman Nikita Zadorov assisted on two of the Avalanche's goals to record his second multi-point game of the month.

"He has a lot of potential to be an even better defender and continually grow in the area that we have seen some improvement on here lately, his offensive side of things," said Bednar. "I think we can expand his role as he continues to build his pace of play and solidify the things that we need him to be really good at. Then he can keep improving in those other areas and kind of add to his value for our team."

The 6-foot-5 blueliner has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 32 games played with the Avs this season, matching his total from last year in 56 games.


 Mikko Rantanen's second period goal extended his point streak to eight games, the longest of his career and the fourth-longest active run in the NHL.

"It was a great pass from Nate," Rantanen said of his tally. "He passed from behind the net and I was all alone in front of the net. I was pretty close to the goalie, so I just tried to go high and it went in, so it was good."

Rantanen has registered three goals and six assists during the stretch.

Video: Mikko Rantanen on the Avs' win vs. Leafs


Colorado successfully killed both of its penalties in the contest and has now gone 10 straight games without allowing a power-play goal.

During the stretch, the Avs have kept their opponent scoreless in 30 chances with an extra skater, the longest streak since 1998-99 when Colorado had 35 straight kills.

The Avalanche has not allowed a man-advantage goal at Pepsi Center since Dec. 1 versus the New Jersey Devils and is 56-for-60 on home ice this season, the best home penalty kill in the league.

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