Goaltender Jonas Johansson has only been a member of the Colorado Avalanche for a few weeks, but he had the entire team cheering for him when he earned his first win with the squad on Friday.
Johansson made 25 saves to help the Avs pick up a 3-2 victory against the St. Louis Blues at Ball Arena. It was his first win with the Avs since being acquired by the team from the Buffalo Sabres on March 20 and his second in the NHL, with his first coming on since Feb. 20, 2020 versus the Winnipeg Jets.
"Great feeling. Big points for us and personally it was really fun to get the first one in the Avs jersey, so just good things," said Johansson.
After arriving in Colorado following the deal that made him an Av, he only had a couple skates with his new team before making his Avalanche debut on March 23 at the Arizona Coyotes.
Johansson made 28 saves--including three in overtime--in that outing, a 5-4 shootout loss, and has been working on and off the ice with Avs goaltending coach Jussi Parkkila to improve and develop his skills since arriving in Colorado.
Video: Jonas Johansson gets his first win with the Avalanche
"Great win, really happy for Jonas. I think that is his first one this year, he's been battling for quite some time," head coach Jared Bednar said postgame. "He's put some hard work in even with us just in the last couple weeks, trying to sort of refine his game and get sharp again… I thought he came up huge. Even in the first period after he gave up that goal on that first shot, he stops a big breakaway where we have a breakdown. He made numerous real good saves here tonight to get us the victory, so I am happy for him and our team will gain confidence in him as he continues to play, so big two points for sure."
St. Louis' first goal came quickly after Colorado got on the board in the first period, but Johansson stopped the next 11 shots he faced heading into the first intermission, helping the Avs hold a 2-1 lead at the break.
The Gavle, Sweden, native made 25 saves total in the outing and of the 27 shots he faced, 10 came in the third period when it was a one-goal game and six of those 10 occurred when the Blues were on the power play.
"Today I think the PK did a great job. At the end there, I think (Samuel) Girard had a huge block and a bunch of guys (were) getting huge blocks for us today," said Johansson. "That is what we need for the PK to succeed and to get these important situations in the game to turn into our advantage. Great job by everyone on the PK tonight."
Video: Coach Jared Bednar postgame press conference
Overall, the Avalanche's special-team units had success in the outing, with the squad going 2-for-6 on the power play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill.
Colorado notched multiple power-play goals for the second straight game and has scored two or more times with the man advantage in six contests this year.
"I thought we had a bit of a slow start, but we had a couple power-play goals which were huge," said Nathan MacKinnon. "In games past if we have a slow start and our power play wasn't there we might be down after the first, but we held the lead throughout the game which was important. Obviously, it's a really good team. They are desperate and we are right back at it tomorrow. It's great to see J.J. get his first win with the Avs, and he looked great tonight."
AVS EXTEND STREAK
Colorado collected a point for the 13th straight game, going 11-0-2 during its point streak that began on March 10.
It is the longest point streak in the NHL this season and the third longest in franchise history. The 2000-01 club strung together a 16-gamer (12-0-4) and the 2002-03 Avs went 14 straight games with at least one point (11-0-3).
In its last 20 games, Colorado is 15-2-3 (33 points), the second-best 20-game stretch in franchise history. The Avs went 16-1-3 (35 points) from Jan. 23-March 5, 2003.
FANS BACK AT BALL ARENA
After having about 2,500 frontline workers, players' families and employees of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment at Wednesday's game against the Arizona Coyotes, Friday's contest was the first that ticketed fans were back at Ball Arena since last March, and the Avalanche faithful made their presence known.
Over 4,000 fans were in the stands of Colorado's home building and helped the team improve to 10-0-1 in its last 11 contests at Ball Arena, its longest home point streak since the Avalanche went 11 straight home games with a point in 2002-03 (17 in a row).
"It was very loud tonight," said Nathan MacKinnon. "It feels like more than 4,000 or 5,000, it feels like a lot more than that. I think they did a good job of spreading them out, they look like they are pretty close together with lots of fans in the upper bowl [and] lower bowl."
Video: Nathan MacKinnon after scoring twice vs. Blues
BACK AT IT AGAIN SATURDAY
Colorado and St. Louis have a quick turnaround with their next outing coming less than 24 hours after the final horn on Friday.
The teams will conclude their back-to-back set at 7 p.m. MT on Saturday, the sixth time the Avalanche has played on consecutive nights this year and the second time both outings have occurred at home against the same opponent. The Avs are now 5-1-0 in the first contest of such sets, with a 2-0-3 mark in the second.
Valeri Nichushkin could return to game action in the contest after missing Friday's game with an upper-body injury.
"It is a possibility he could play tomorrow; we'll just see," said Bednar. "I have kind of been saying that all along, I am not going to play guys that are hurt or if their injury is going to get worse. I would rather play rested, healthy guys and not turn a day-to-day injury into a week-to-week injury, so we'll just have a conversation tomorrow morning when we come to the rink."
MORE POSTGAME NOTES
Colorado scored the first goal of the game for a league-leading 26th time this season and is 21-3-2 when scoring first, the most wins in the NHL when lighting the lamp first. The Avalanche has scored within the first five minutes of the game in four straight contests and in six of its last 10.
The Avs are 16-4-2 at home this season, the most points (34) by any NHL team at home this season and tied for the most wins (Pittsburgh).
The Avalanche's power-play unit is 11-for-36 (30.6 percent) over its last 10 outings.
Brandon Saad picked up his 20th point of season, the 10th Avalanche player with at least 20 points this year, the most of any NHL team.
Video: STL@COL: Saad tucks home a PPG at the doorstep
Nathan MacKinnon recorded his first multi-goal game of the season and 25th of his career. His second tally stood as the game-winner, his second game-winning goal of the campaign and 41st of his career. Since entering the league in 2013-14, MacKinnon's 41 game-deciding tallies are tied for sixth in the NHL.
Gabriel Landeskog (two assists) recorded his second straight multi-point game and ninth of the season. Six of those nine multi-point performances have come in the last nine contests and he has totaled 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) over his last 11 outings.
Jacob MacDonald had an assist to record a point in consecutive games for the first time in his career.