Three lines score for Avalanche in 4-1 win over Stars


Four players have been the life vest keeping the Avalanche afloat throughout the first quarter of the season. When injuries force a fourth line to become a revolving door of AHL call-ups, reliance on stars is to be expected.

But sometimes a few rebound opportunities are all it takes for supplementary scorers to contribute to the unflattering exercise of treading water.

If treading water is what the Avs are doing early in their Stanley Cup title defense, they’re awfully good at it. Their 4-1 win Saturday night completed a two-game sweep this week against the Central Division-leading Dallas Stars. They have won eight of their last 10.

“There’s been some sloppy hockey. … With all that talent out of the lineup, it’s not as clean as you want it to be,” coach Jared Bednar said. “It’s not maybe what we were used to watching last year. But there’s still a high compete level. A high commitment level.”

Alexandar Georgiev saved 41 shots as Colorado (12-6-1) was outshot by eight, bringing his save percentage to .933. Josh Manson, Dryden Hunt and Andrew Cogliano all scored on rebounds, and the Avalanche’s first, second and third forward lines produced goals.

“Our trademark as a line is good defense leads to good offense, no matter who we’re out there against: top line, bottom,” said third-line wing Logan O’Connor, whose third-period rebound shot shaved off Cogliano on the way in.

Bednar had to rework those lines again with second-line center Evan Rodrigues (lower body) out an estimated two to four weeks. Alex Newhook reverted from left wing to Rodrigues’ center position. Hunt moved up from the fourth line to the second, a domino move by necessity that paid dividends. His second-period goal to give Colorado a 3-1 lead was his first point since the Avalanche claimed him off waivers in October. It was Hunt’s 15th game since arriving from the Rangers.

Bednar said the back six earned more ice time. Still, as refreshing as the balance was, the foursome of Artturi Lehkonen, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar has produced the majority of Colorado’s offense since the injury to Valeri Nichushkin, Colorado’s leading scorer at the time.

In the last 12 games, they have combined to account for 55.2% of the Avalanche’s individual points (64 of 116). Lehkonen is riding a career-high nine-game point streak.

He and Rantanen were on the assisting end of Colorado’s second goal Saturday, a fracas in front of the net that also marked the beginning of Manson’s eventful, head-spinning evening. The defenseman cleaned up a rebound for his second goal of the season and a 2-0 intermission lead.

“I got lucky with my goal, just kind of nosing around the net,”  he said. “Ended up landing there for me.”

Manson, who already led the team in penalty minutes, was sent to the box three times in a bizarre second period. The first two penalties were against Mason Marchment — coincidentally the same player Manson checked five days earlier in Dallas, leading to a fight between Manson and Jamie Benn.

Manson wasn’t pleased with the second whistle, a holding call. When he returned to the ice, a high stick from Marchment caught him in the face. No penalty was called, leaving Manson laughing at the officiating as he returned to the bench. Ninety seconds later, he was back in the box for tripping Radek Faksa.

“Did a nice job on a penalty kill , when he wasn’t in the penalty box,” Bednar joked. “Lots going on for him tonight, but it was I think an all-around good game. Probably just have to watch his stick a little bit.”


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