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Avs Finish Trip With Full-Team Effort

Colorado concludes trip with shootout win against Tampa Bay

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele / ColoradoAvalanche.com

On its first trip to the East Coast in over a year and a half, the Colorado Avalanche battled in its final outing of a three-game journey to go 1-2-0 on the road swing.

Colorado finished the trip with a 4-3 shootout win against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Saturday. Gabriel Landeskog netted the first goal of the game and after that, the Avs and Bolts alternated markers and were tied three different times during the contest before Cale Makar scored the decisive marker in the shootout.

Nathan MacKinnon factored on all three Avalanche goals in regulation while Landeskog had a multi-point effort and the third member of that forward trio, Mikko Rantanen, also found the back of the net. However, it wasn't just the top line that helped Colorado pick up the win.

"I thought everybody played well, obviously we got the points, but great team effort," MacKinnon noted. "A lot of guys did things that wouldn't show up on the scoresheet and, you know, we got a couple breaks, a couple good looks that we buried on and really happy about that."

Video: Nathan MacKinnon postgame in Tampa Bay

Facing the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, Colorado wanted to have a better effort against the Lightning and the result of that work ethic made it so Colorado and Tampa were pretty evenly matched in the outing.

"Tonight, I thought we played with real good purpose--we were definitely a more connected group. I thought it was a really good hockey game by both teams," said head coach Jared Bednar. "It was very evenly played and that's how it showed up on the scoreboard as well, comes to a shootout. I liked the way our guys played. It should have been fun to watch, it was fun to compete in and coach in and I'm really glad we got the two points, and our guys got a little reward for doing things right, working as hard as they did--you know, you got to get that reward every once in a while, so I was really happy with it."

Video: COL@TBL: Makar wins it in the shootout

The Avalanche began the trip by falling 6-3 to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday and 4-1 against the Florida Panthers on Thursday.

"It wasn't the best two games to (start) the road trip. You know I thought last game, we did a lot of good things but there were just too many breakdowns, and we left the game over grabs, and they won it," said MacKinnon. "But I thought we did play well enough to win the game against Florida. And tonight, Kuemps played great, and we scored when we had to. I haven't looked at the video, but I think we did a pretty good job overall defensively. This is a really good team, they're missing guys but we we're missing a few key guys ourselves, so we're battling and hope to get healthy here." 

STUNNING STICK SAVE

Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves in the contest but the biggest one might have come with 4:15 remaining in regulation. The puck had slipped past him, and he was able to reach his stick around and stop it from crossing the goal line. 

"There was a lot of traffic, so I was fighting to see the point shot and he kind of threw it to the back post and it banked off someone," Kuemper said of the save. "Just kind of saw it out of the corner of my eye, so I just reached back and fortunately I was able to get it before it crossed the line."

Video: COL@TBL: Kuemper makes a diving stick save on Cernak

"That was a pivotal save for us, that was huge," Makar said of the stop. "I think Kuemps played unbelievable tonight, obviously kept us in the game. There's not much else to it, he does it every night, so I don't expect much less."

MURRAY HITS 400

Ryan Murray played in his 400th career NHL game. The defenseman was drafted second overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2012 and skated in his rookie season with the club in 2013-14.

After spending seven campaigns with the Blue Jackets, Murray spent the 2020-21 year with the New Jersey Devils. He signed with the Avs this past summer and has 15 goals and 109 assists for 124 points in his 400 NHL contests.

Tweet from @Avalanche: Ryan Murray nation, it���s official.Congratulate your man on hitting 400 career games!#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/8nxmlEKcWm

INJURY UPDATES

Defenseman Devon Toews remains in a red, non-contact jersey at practices but went on the three-game trip with the Avs as he continues to prepare to return from his upper-body injury. He has been in the non-contact jersey since the beginning of training camp after having offseason surgery.

"His next checkup isn't until after we get back. We brought him on the trip because he's getting to the point where he's close to taking contact," Bednar said of Toews pregame. "He will have to see the doc one more time but being it a week-long road trip I think it's good for him to be skating with our team as much as possible, even if some of it is just gameday skates, he's doing extra working after. Making sure that when he is cleared and ready to go he is as close as possible at being a player for us." 

Forward Valeri Nichushkin is out on a week-to-week basis with an upper-body injury while goaltender Pavel Francouz remains sidelined for three-to-four weeks after suffering a lower-body injury in a preseason contest on Oct. 5. Stefan Matteau will also be out for "weeks" with a lower-body injury.

Defenseman Samuel Girard did not finish the matchup in Tampa Bay after being hit into the boards during the overtime period. 

OTHER POSTGAME NOTES

The contest marked the first of two meetings between the Avalanche and Lightning in 2021-22. It was Colorado's first visit to Tampa since Oct. 19, 2019 (6-2 Avs win). Tampa Bay makes its lone trip to Denver on Dec. 18.

Mikko Rantanen extended his season-opening point streak to five games and has totaled five points (three goals, two assists) in that stretch.

Video: COL@TBL: Rantanen, MacKinnon combine for the goal

Rantanen has previously had point streaks to open a campaign of six games (2019-20) and nine games (2018-19). He is the first Avalanche player since the club arrived in Denver to record a season-opening point streak of five or more contests on three occasions. Nathan MacKinnon (two times) and Joe Sakic (two times) are the only other skaters to accomplish the feat multiple times. 

Rantanen also extended his goal streak to three outings, as he found the back of the net in each of Colorado's games on the road trip.

Nathan MacKinnon has recorded an assist in each of his first three games this season, a feat he has accomplished twice before (five games in 2019-20, three games in 2013-14). 

Bowen Byram notched an assist and has collected four points (one goal, three assists) this season, pacing all Avalanche defensemen in scoring. His four points are tied for fourth among league rookies in scoring.

Video: MacKinnon, Makar lead Avalanche to shootout victory

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