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Friday, December 09, 2022

Colorado beat Calgary 2-1 in clash with West Division leaders

CALGARY, Alberta ( Associated Press) – Valeri Nichushkin scored two power play goals and Darcy Keumper stopped 44 shots when the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Calgary Flames 2-1 in a game between Western Conference division leaders on Tuesday night.

“Good wins by our group,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “I thought our team was highly committed on the defensive side of things.

“Power play increases at the end, gives us a big win.”

Colorado (47-14-6), who led the Central Division, won the season 2-1. The Avalanche did it without Nathan MacKinnon (lower body), their leading scorer who was injured in a third period fight with Minnesota’s Matt Dumba on Sunday.

Nazem Kadri took MacKinnon’s place on the Avs’ top line along with Nichuskin and Mikko Rantanen. After going without a win in his two previous starts, Kuemper improved to 31-9-3.

“Definitely an honor for the depth of the team,” Kuemper said. “The willingness and ability for guys to strengthen their game and make up for the guys who are missing.”

Tyler Toffoli scored for Calgary, leading the Pacific division (40-18-8). Jacob Markstrom (31-13-7) stopped 28 shots. The Flames are 2-2-0 at a six-game home game that continues Thursday against Los Angeles. The Kings are second in the Pacific, seven points behind the Flames.

With the score tied at 1-1, Colorado took advantage of a triple penalty goal to Elias Lindholm halfway through the third period. Mikko Rantanen spotted Nichushkin in front and sent a perfect pass over the slot Nichushkin drove behind Markstrom.

Colorado’s power play has been deadly lately. The unit converted 2 of 3 chances and moved up to 15 for 36 over the Avalanche’s last 12 games (41.7%).

“Power play, we need them to act,” Bednar said. “It will be stiff.

“This is how it works in the long run until the play-off rounds. It is difficult to find space and to create chances 5 to 5 and when you get one or two (power play), you have to try to profit from it. ”

Calgary’s penalty goal struggled for a second consecutive game. The Flames have conceded five power play goals in their last two games.

“It’s two games with very soft, individual mistakes,” Flames coach Darryl Sutter said. “First one tonight, puck has to go off the ice, forwards had two cracks.

“The second is just a straight reading by the defender. These are mental errors. Very simple. “

Mikael Backlund, part of the Flames’ leading penalty-pairing up front, said it was up to Calgary to recover next game.

“We know it can be better,” he said. “And we know we were very strong all year.

“We had one or two games during the year where similar to this, we let in too much, and we jumped back and we played very solidly afterwards.”

Chris Tanev said the Flames need to work harder again.

“We shot well until we conceded three goals in a period against Edmonton and tonight they were all special teams and they got two and we had one and that was the difference in the game,” said Tanev. “We need to keep our clearances, our entries, and back to working PPs out there.”

Calgary have entered the game 4 for 12 with a man advantage in the previous four games. But the Flames were only able to capitalize on one of six chances against Colorado, including two chances in seven minutes from the third, both on Kadri penalty kicks. The latter came with 16 seconds left.

The Flames opened the scoring at 9:31 of the second and took advantage of a two-man advantage. They secured the 5-on-3 when Nichushkin got his stick in the hands of Rasmus Andersson 18 seconds after the first power play.

The Flames controlled possession, but initially could not create good chances. But in the end, Andersson sent a pass over that Toffoli once inside the goal post from 30 feet.

Matthew Tkachuk also assisted with the goal, giving him 12 points (four goals, eight assists) during a five-game scoring series.

The lead lasted less than five minutes when the Avalanche responded with a power play goal. With Milan Lucic down for interference, Colorado equalized at 13:46 when Cale Makar’s shot from Nichushkin, who was watching Markstrom, turned off.

NOTES: Sean Monahan has returned to the team for Calgary after a healthy streak the last two games. … Trade deadline acquisition Arturri Lehkonen made his debut for the Avs. He centered a line with Andre Burakovsky and Alex Newhook. … Colorado D Samuel Girard (lower body) missed his ninth game. He’s skating back now.

FOLLOWING

Colorado: Host San Jose Sharks on Thursday.

Calgary: Host Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

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More Associated Press NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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