Valery Nichushkin, who has long been plagued by injuries this season, has gained cruising momentum by the end of the National Hockey League regular season. The Colorado forward scores points for the sixth game in a row, and the away meeting with Arizona was a benefit for the native of Chelyabinsk.
After a goalless and rather boring first period, the Avalanche had a second twenty minutes, scoring two goals in 76 seconds. However, the first goal was given to the opponents by Arizona goaltender Connor Ingram, who came out of the net and tried to throw the puck along the board, but instead laid it almost on the stick of Mikko Rantanen.
However, in the wake of this success, the visitors spent the start of the third game period in a somewhat relaxed state, as their head coach Jared Bednar later noted. The hosts, on the contrary, did not give up and fought to the end. In the end, they managed to adequately respond to Colorado and upset Alexander Georgiev twice in 60 seconds.
It didn't take long for the Avalanche to regain their former concentration and take the lead again. Finding themselves in the majority after a foul by Liam O'Brien, the visitors landed on Ingram's net and translated the numerical advantage into a goal. The hero of the episode was Nichushkin, who first fought at the boards, and then, taking a killer position at the far post, closed Rantanen's cross.
"We needed that puck. We had to try very hard to get ahead again, to defuse the situation a little. I thought, this is an important moment in the game. (Our players were under pressure. - RT) They know we didn't play that well at the beginning of the period," Bednar said.
However, Arizona was clearly not satisfied with this state of affairs, because the team already suffered three defeats in a row, and in the 56th minute Clayton Keller effectively restored parity. The American picked up the puck in the right faceoff circle and unexpectedly threw it from the turn into the near corner. Georgiev was taken by surprise and did not have time to close his shields. Spectators did not see more goals scored either in the remaining main time of the match or in overtime, so it came to a shootout.
And there the Russian goalkeeper revealed himself in all his glory, repelling five one-on-one exits.
"In the third period, they were able to score a few goals. They have skilled players there and there was a draw coming out, but... (I still had the impression. - RT) that we have a good chance of winning in overtime. Then the shootout started, and I just tried to deflect the shots of these guys, tried to focus on it, "said Alexander, who recorded 27 saves after the game.
But still, the main character of the series was not Georgiev, but his compatriot Nichushkin. Big Val was the only one of the 14 hockey players who managed to send the puck into the net, and he also did it very beautifully, thereby bringing Colorado a second consecutive victory. After the match, the Russian was deservedly recognized as the first star.
Achievements of Kuzmenko and Buchnevich
NHL debutant Andrei Kuzmenko did not lag behind his compatriot. A few days ago, the Vancouver forward scored his 35th goal and broke the club record for the most goals in his nhl debut season, which previously belonged to Pavel Bura. He lasted more than 30 years, from the 1991–92 season.
In the reporting game with Chicago (4: 2), the native of Yakutsk scored an assist double and was recognized as the second star of the meeting. The best player of the match was Elias Petterson, in whose two goals Kuzmenko took part.
Thus, the Russian scores points for the third match in a row, thanks to which he broke into the top 50 best scorers of the season. Now he has 66 points, including 31 assists. This is Vancouver's second rookie metric in 40 years. Only Petterson performed better, having 2018 passes in the 19/38 season.
St. Louis forward Pavel Buchnevich scored a goal and an assist in another game, but his team was defeated by Los Angeles in an extremely entertaining and effective match. The Blues conceded five goals in the first period, answering only one, but returned to the game and even reduced the gap to a minimum, but failed to squeeze the opponent. As a result, in 60 minutes, the spectators saw 13 goals, and the victory went to the hosts - 7: 6.
The assist in this meeting was Buchnevich's 40th in the current regular season, thanks to which he inscribed his name in the history of club records. The Russian became only the fifth Blues player in the last 20 years to conquer this bar in two consecutive seasons. Previously, only Robert Thomas, Ryan O'Reilly, Doug Waite and Pavol Demitra could boast of this.