Logan O’Connor, Andre Burakovsky and Artturi Lehkonen all scored in the second period Thursday night for the NHL-leading Colorado Avalanche, who extended their winning streak to eight games by beating the visiting New Jersey Devils 3-1.
The Avalanche (54-14-6) extended their lead over the idle Florida Panthers to four points in the race for the best record in the NHL and the Presidents Trophy. Colorado is four points shy of tying the team record set by the 2000-01 squad, which won the franchise’s most recent Stanley Cup.
Goalie Pavel Francouz made 26 saves.
Jesper Bratt scored in the third period for the Devils (26-42-6, 58 points), who fell to 2-1-0 on a five-game Western Conference trip. Goalie Andrew Hammond recorded 27 saves.
The Devils outshot the Avalanche 13-12 in the first before the hosts dominated the second period.
Josh Manson picked off a clearing pass by P.K. Subban to set up the Avalanche’s first goal. Manson, standing just behind the Colorado blue line, dished through the neutral zone to Darren Helm, whose shot glanced off Hammond.
The puck bounced to O’Connor, who had his back to the net but did a 180-degree turn before firing a shot beyond Hammond’s glove at the 3:07 mark.
The Avalanche doubled their lead in quirky fashion just 4:38 later. Lehkonen headed behind the net and passed through the crease to Burakovsky, whose point-blank shot beat Hammond. The net was knocked off its moorings by Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton as the latter tried shoving J.T. Compher.
A hooking penalty on Michael McLeod generated the power play that yielded the Avalanche’s third goal, with 5:25 left in the second. Mikko Rantanen’s shot was deflected by Hammond, but Lehkonen maintained his balance and backhanded the rebound into the wide-open corner of the net, beyond Hammond’s stick.
An impressive effort by Nico Hischier helped end Francouz’s shutout bid with 8:21 left in the third. Hischier pushed the puck into the slot while trying to fend off Bowen Byram and then managed to get off a shot.
Avalanche defenseman Ryan Johnson controlled the puck for a moment before Pavel Zacha grabbed it and sent a no-look pass to Bratt. The left winger went to one knee and beat Francouz from point-blank range.
–Field Level Media