He had his chances before, but the puck finally found twine on Saturday night for Valeri Nichushkin.
Valeri Nichushkin scored his first goal as a member of the Colorado Avalanche in a 5-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Pepsi Center. It was his first marker since March 4, 2016 versus the New Jersey Devils as a member of the Dallas Stars.
He buried a rebound top shelf on Colorado's fifth shot attempt in a 25-second span to cut Colorado's deficit to 4-3 in the third period.
"To see Val, I mean if you saw video of our bench, all the guys went crazy," said head coach Jared Bednar. "It was a big goal for us obviously, but also just to see him get rewarded for some of his hard work. It was a great hard-working shift.
"They probably put five or six pucks to the net, we were jumping on rebounds and finally he got one out on his stick, so good for him. Hopefully he can continue that."
Video: TOR@COL: Nichushkin scores first with Avalanche
Nichushkin was drafted 10th overall by the Dallas Stars in 2013 and recorded 74 points (23 goals, 51 assists) in 223 career NHL regular-season contests over the course of four NHL seasons.
He signed with Colorado as an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 19 and has played in 18 games this campaign, registering three points (one goal, two assists). The Chelyabinsk, Russia, native is also averaging 12:20 of ice time per game, including time on both special-teams units with an average of 1:44 on the power play and 57 seconds on the penalty kill.
"I mean he has been having a lot of chances, just been having some bad luck," Avs forward Andre Burakovksy said of his teammate. "For him to score today, I am real happy for him. Like I said, he has been creating, he has been having a lot of good opportunities and they haven't gone in for him so it's really nice to see him get one today. Hopefully he keeps that up."
COLORADO INJURY UPDATES
Tyson Jost returned to game action against Toronto after missing three games with an upper-body injury.
With Jost back in the lineup, the Avs now have four forwards out with injuries. Gabriel Landeskog (lower body) will be reevaluated at a pre-scheduled doctor's visit on Monday while Colin Wilson (lower body) and Matt Calvert (head) could return to practice at some point this week.
Mikko Rantanen (lower body) ran through drills at an optional practice on Friday and Bednar said there is a chance he could be ready to play when the Avs host the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.
"Our guys are all progressing. I think my last information that I have, and I don't know how accurate it is because it changes every half day or so, Wilson will probably start skating with Shawn Allard. Get some work in and maybe be a possibility to jump into a practice," Bednar said. "Mikko has been doing that. It is my understanding that he will jump into a practice and Calvert is getting better too. So, we will see what the next 48 hours bring for Calvert but maybe there is a chance he can get into a practice too. I would say if it's not Wednesday there is a better possibility probably on the weekend that we see [Rantanen]."
The Avalanche is now 8-3-1 on Hockey Fights Cancer night.
Colorado is 5-1-2 against the Eastern Conference this season, the final team in the NHL to lose to an Eastern Conference team in regulation.
The Avalanche held Toronto to three shots on goal in the second period, matching the fewest shots against in a period this season (two times, last on Nov. 2 at Arizona).
The Avs were 60.3 percent at the faceoff circle, their highest faceoff-win percentage in a game this season.
Andre Burakovsky extended his point streak to five games. He has registered nine points over that span (five goals, four assists), matching his highest point total over any five-game stretch of his career (also from Jan. 15-23, 2017; four goals, five assists).
Cale Makar finished with 27:45 of ice time, a career high. It is also an Avalanche season high and the most of any rookie in 2019-20. It's the third-most ice time for an Avalanche rookie defenseman since the team moved to Denver (Martin Skoula, 31:03 on Dec. 1, 1999 versus Edmonton; Tyson Barrie, 28:48 on April 26, 2013 at Phoenix).