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Compher Takes Part in 2020 NHL Player Gaming Challenge

Avalanche forward represented team against Filip Forsberg and the Nashville Predators

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Colorado Avalanche forward J.T. Compher went head to head with the Nashville Predators' Filip Forsberg on EA Sports' NHL 20 for the NHL Player Gaming Challenge but fell in each contest of the three-game set on Saturday.

Although the Avs are 2-0-0 against the Preds so far in the 2019-20 regular-season, Nashville swept the virtual games, winning 5-2 in the first contest, 5-3 in the second and 6-4 in the third and final matchup. All three outings were played at virtual Bridgestone Arena.

In the first game, Forsberg and the Predators got on the scoreboard first when Mikael Granlund tallied after what Compher deemed as a "bad turnover." The Avalanche tied the game when digital Joonas Donskoi scored from the slot in the second period, right after Forsberg referenced Colorado's 9-4 victory over the Preds on Nov. 7, a game in which Donskoi scored his first NHL hat trick.

Nashville's Craig Smith and Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog also found the back of the net in the middle period, knotting the game at 2-2 at the second intermission. Digital Colton Sissons, Ryan Johansen and Roman Josi scored in the final frame to secure the first victory of the day.

In the third period of the first game, virtual Samuel Girard took a slapshot from the point, but it was stopped by Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne.

"Sammy G slapshot, not something you see very often, I don't think," Compher commentated.

"We haven't seen the spin-o-rama yet, I am sure that's coming soon," Forsberg quickly added.

Compher chuckled and responded with, "We are going to have to look up the control [combination] for that one."

Girard was drafted by the Predators in 2016 and made his league debut with Nashville in October 2017 before the Avs acquired the defenseman on Nov. 5 of that season. Having played with Girard, Forsberg asked Compher about the blueliner.

"Sam is a great kid, I roomed with him on the road the last few years and got to know him really well," Compher said. "Definitely a little shy at first but hold on--I got a 2-on-1 here I got to focus, I'm sorry…Really good kid, definitely a great player. You guys (Nashville), I think more than anyone, have seen that spin-o-rama, for sure."

"He came in at the start of that season when he was traded and same thing, he was just doing those things in practice and you're like, 'this guy is sick,'" Forsberg said of Girard. "He scored a couple goals, I think he had a goal or two for us and then obviously we made the trade. But like you said, great guy and he was an awesome teammate for the little time we had with him. How about the singing thing?"

"Oh crazy, first time I heard it I was so shocked," Compher noted of Girard's now not-so-hidden opera talent. "It's like the one from the Will Ferrell movie Step Brothers, Ave Maria. He does 10 seconds of that, and it is really good."

"Is that his warmup routine before the game?," asked Los Angeles Kings TV play-by-play announcer Alex Faust, who is hosting the Player Gaming Challenge matchups.

"If we need it, yeah. If we need a boost before the game," said Compher.

Compher, who is self-quarantining in Dallas, Texas, with his girlfriend, said he is doing his best to work out during the pause to the season and noted that because he is unable to get on the ice, he ordered a pair of rollerblades last week.

While the NHL community is practicing social distancing and taking the necessary precautions, the league created the NHL Player Gaming Challenge as part of the #HockeyAtHome initiative to help raise money for the COVID-19 relief efforts.

"The first responders and everyone that has stepped up in this time, everyone I know is very appreciative," said Compher. "They're heroic and definitely good to see people rallying around them."

In the second NHL 20 contest of the day, the Avalanche fought back from a 5-0 deficit with goals from digital Compher, Nikita Zadorov and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare but couldn't complete the comeback and dropped the outing by a 5-3 score.

Digital Josi and Calle Jarnkrok gave the Preds a quick 2-0 lead in the final game, but the Avs got their first lead of the day midway through the first period after getting goals from Andre Burakovsky, Nazem Kadri and Compher. Burakovsky added another tally in the third period, and Philipp Gruabuer denied a Johansen penalty shot, but Colorado still fell 6-4.

"Definitely going to go work on my game now, I am not really happy with the result so I will give you a call in a month after I have been practicing nonstop," Compher said to Forsberg after the matchups.

The 2020 NHL Player Gaming Challenge presented by Honda features players representing all 31 clubs and the league's newest franchise, NHL Seattle, will also be included. The National Hockey League Foundation and EA Sports donated a combined $100,000 in support of the CDC Foundation's COVID-19 relief efforts. Fans can also join the NHL and EA Sports by joining www.give4cdcf.org/nhl.

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