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Bellemare Showing Offensive Ability

Avalanche forward has five points in two games against his former team

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

LAS VEGAS--Pierre-Edouard Bellemare enjoyed his two seasons with the Vegas Golden Knights, and it appears he continues to enjoy playing in the place he called home for two years.

Bellemare had his first career three-point outing with a goal and two assists in the Colorado Avalanche's first game in Vegas on Oct. 25, and he followed up that performance with his first multi-goal game in the NHL is his second contest back at T-Mobile Arena.

"I'm a hockey player, right?," Bellemare said. "It's sure fun to be able to show a little more offensive side of me that I had when I was in Europe, and I had to give up that way to play when I came to the States to be able to be an NHL player. Six years later, I'm allowed to try a little more."

The road to the NHL was uncommon for Bellemare, currently 34, as the forward played in 12 pro seasons in his native France and Sweden before signing with the Philadelphia Flyers as a free agent at 29 years old prior to the 2014-15 season.

In his five previous NHL campaigns, Bellemare topped off at seven goals in 2015-16 with the Flyers and 16 points with the Knights in 2017-18. He now has six goals and 12 points in 36 games this year with the Avalanche, and half of his tallies have come against his former squad.

"Hard to believe I scored two. I usually score friggin' five a year," Bellemare said. "That is already one-third of it, that's nice. I don't think you're going to see that of me every night, but it is sure nice when it comes."

Video: Bellemare discusses Colorado's win in Vegas postgame

Bellemare is usually tasked to help shutdown opponent scoring chances, and the forward and his line with Matt Calvert and Valeri Nichushkin also displayed that ability against the offensive Golden Knights. Head coach Jared Bednar trusted that group to help hold the team's lead after Colorado lost two such advantages in the third period in each of their previous two games.

"Our guys were doing the right things, so you're going to get rewarded every once and awhile, even if they're not pretty. To be able to make sure that they didn't build too much momentum and come after us I thought was big," Bednar said. "The Bellemare line was outstanding tonight. They were a big part in that, holding momentum for us."

Video: COL@VGK: Bellemare pots second goal

The Avs defeated the Knight 7-3 on Monday and have now outscored Vegas 13-4 this season after winning 6-1 in the first meeting of the year.

Colorado has won the last four games against the NHL's newest franchise after going 1-3-0 in the first four all-time meetings.

If Bellemare had his way, he would likely want to play the Knights as much as he could.

"I'm just the same guy, just trying to work every day," he said. "Right now the puck luck is finding me a little bit."

PAVEL WIN-COUZ

Pavel Francouz made his 14th start of the season and continued his stellar play during first NHL campaign.

Francouz, who made 29 saves against Vegas, picked up his 11th win of the year and improved to 9-0-1 in his last 12 games played. His last regulation loss came on Nov. 2 at the Arizona Coyotes.

The Czech goalie is second in the NHL in save percentage (.932) and fourth in goals-against average (2.22). He ranks first in winning percentage (.821, 11-2-1).

Video: COL@VGK: Francouz makes remarkable glove save

LANDESKOG PLAYS 600TH

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog played in his 600th career NHL game on Monday to become the 10th player in franchise history and fifth in Avs history to reach the milestone.

"It has crept up on me," Landeskog said of the milestone. "It came right around the corner pretty fast, but I guess it doesn't really mean much other than a lot of games. So hopefully I have a lot more to go."

Video: COL@VGK: Landeskog scores PPG in 600th NHL game

Landeskog, who is the second player from the 2011 draft class to play 600 games, also scored the game-winning goal against Vegas, his third winning tally of the season, tied for the team lead.

The marker came on the power play, the 49th of his career to move him into a tie with Owen Nolan for ninth place in franchise history.

MAKAR'S RETURN LOOMING

Cale Makar was a full participant at Monday's morning skate in Vegas and is slotted to return to the lineup on Friday when the Avs return to action against the Minnesota Wild.

The rookie defenseman, who is tied for second on the team in scoring with 28 points (eight goals, 20 assists), has been out for the past eight games with an upper-body injury suffered on Dec. 7 at the Boston Bruins.

"I think he looks great out there. He's moving well, he's shooting the puck," Bednar said. "Still got a little soreness. I want him to be confident going out on the ice. The thing is if we were playing in two days from now, then maybe he would be in. But we have a break coming up and an extra handful of days that I think could possibly help him. If it makes him more confident coming back ready and healthy and start contributing again, then that is what we're comfortable with as well."

Makar was named the NHL's Rookie of the Month for November after producing seven goals and 16 points, both franchise rookie records for a single month.

MORE NOTES

The Avalanche improved its record to 23-11-3 and 49 points on the campaign, matching their most wins and second-most points before the annual holiday break.

The Avs are now 13-6-1 on the road this season, tied with the Arizona Coyotes for the second-most away wins this season.

Colorado scored seven or more goals in a game for the third time this season (also: Nov. 7 vs. Nashville, 9 and Nov. 30 vs. Chicago, 7). The Avs are tied with the Washington Capitals with 134 goals this season and rank first in goals per game, averaging 3.62.

Valeri Nichushkin had a goal and assist for his first multi-point outing since March 4, 2016 versus New Jersey and recorded his first career Gordie Howe Hat Trick. It was the Avalanche's first Gordie Howe Hat Trick since J.T. Compher on Dec. 14, 2018 at the St. Louis Blues.

J.T. Compher finished with two assists. He now has 16 helpers this season to match his career best set during the 2018-19 campaign.

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