Many Colorado Avalanche players have set new career bests already this season, and Joonas Donskoi was the latest to set a new high on Wednesday.
Donskoi scored the first goal of the game to record his 15th of the season, his most in a single campaign, in the Avs' 3-1 win against the New York Islanders at Pepsi Center.
He surpassed his previous high of 14 goals in a campaign, a mark he set in each of the last two years with the San Jose Sharks.
"I think I have been happy; it was an easy transition," Donskoi said of his first year with the Avs. "The guys have been super nice, and it was kind of easy to come here. I have been having a lot of fun this year, and hopefully we are able to go far this year."
Video: NYI@COL: Donskoi tips Makar's shot past Varlamov
He skated on a line with Valeri Nichushkin and J.T. Compher, a combination that was put together after Colorado saw three of its forwards suffer injuries in the last week and a half. The trio showed chemistry early and not only helped to create offense but also aided in limiting the chances that New York could create in the contest.
"The Compher, Nichushkin and Donskoi line, they were outstanding," said head coach Jared Bednar. "I thought especially the start of the game, some other guys stood out to me too in [Nathan] MacKinnon and [Cale] Makar, but that line as a line was really good.
"I thought that was Val's best game in a long time, he has just been a little bit not as sharp lately, I also thought that was Donskoi's best game in quite some time too. You kind of put that all together and that line, they played against [Mathew] Barzal and they played against [Brock] Nelson, and there wasn't a lot going on when those guys were on the ice in our area of the rink."
Video: Coach Jared Bednar on the Avs' 3-1 win vs. Islanders
Donskoi, who has 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists) this year, scored for the first time since he missed five games with a head injury from Jan. 10-20. He has played in nine contests since he suffered that ailment, and Bednar said the game against the Islanders was one of his standout performances of the year.
"To go out and play what I considered his best game and then get rewarded for it, that is what you want as a coach because that is how guys get confidence," Bednar said of Donskoi. "He played hard tonight. He was moving his feet, just doing all the things that we saw him do before the injury, that he has still been trying to do. He never cheats you on his work ethic, but tonight he just got more accomplished, so it is nice to see him get rewarded for that."
The victory came in the second of the two-game season series between the Avs and the Islanders. The Avalanche finished 1-1-0 against New York, as each team won on home ice. Colorado is now 17-6-4 against the Eastern Conference this season.
The Avalanche also closed out its five-game homestand, finishing 2-2-1 on the home stay. Colorado has collected points in 12 of its last 15 contests (9-3-3) and is 9-3-1 over its last 13 outings.
ALL HAIL CALE
Cale Makar recorded two assists to improve to 33 on the season, setting a new Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques franchise record for helpers by a rookie defenseman. The mark was previously held by Quebec's Bruce Bell, who registered 31 in 1984-85.
Makar has already set franchise records for points (45) and goals (12) by a first-year blueliner. His 45 points rank second in the league among all rookies while his four game-winning goals are tied for first.
MacKINNON's THIRD 50-ASSIST SEASON
Nathan MacKinnon recorded his 50th assist of the season, the third consecutive season that he has hit the 50-helper mark.
The Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, native joins Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg as the only Colorado players to record 50 or more assists in three or more consecutive seasons. Sakic accomplished the feat twice, once from 1998-2002 and again from 2003-2007, while Forsberg did so from 1995-99.
Video: NYI@COL: Landeskog deflects MacKinnon's shot home
MacKinnon had two assists against the Islanders and now has 298 in his career, which ties Paul Stastny for ninth place in franchise history and fifth in Avs history. MacKinnon sits at 486 career points and is now two points shy of tying Alex Tanguay (488) for seventh in franchise history and fourth in Colorado annals.
MARTIN KAUT'S DEBUT
Martin Kaut, Colorado's first-round selection (No. 16 overall) at the 2018 NHL Draft, made his NHL debut. He was on a line with veteran forwards Matt Nieto and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and had two shot attempts and two hits in 7:47 of ice time.
"Kauter was great tonight. Simple, played to his role, physical. Had a couple scoring chances, showed some skill on some plays, but hard and heavy on pucks and quick--he was skating well tonight," said Bednar. "I liked everything about his game. It wasn't flashy, but it was effective, especially in the role that he is in with Nieto and Bellemare tonight."
Video: NYI@COL: Kaut takes solo lap before NHL debut
He earned his first recall to the Avalanche on Tuesday morning after recording 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 31 outings with the American Hockey League's Colorado Eagles this year.
"My first shift, I was so nervous because I was just in our D-zone so I just I said in my mind 'I don't want to do a mistake' and second shift, it was much better," said Kaut. "I mean, in second period, I have a couple chances, so I think it was great. Great game for me, I hope so."
Video: Martin Kaut makes his NHL debut
BURAKOVSKY HITS 20-GOAL MARK
Andre Burakovsky scored for the 20th time this season, the first time in his career that he has hit the 20-goal mark.
The tally stood as the game-winner, his sixth of the year, which is a team high and tied for seventh in the league. Burakvosky's six game-winning goals set a new career high for the 25-year-old, eclipsing his previous best of five during the 2017-18 season with the Washington Capitals.
Video: NYI@COL: Burakovsky roofs wrister over Varlamov