Finally – finally – Jared Bednar looked like a coaching genius in an overtime game for the Avs. The heavy use of one Valeri Nichushkin in OT was the winning move in Colorado’s 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks at a still-fanless Ball Arena.
Nichushkin scored on a gorgeous wheel move around the Ducks defense, slipping a puck past tough Ducks goalie John Gibson with 2:15 left to give the Avs their first come-from-behind win of the season when trailing either after the first or the second period.
Nichushkin started the OT and, while there were a couple of anxious moments, he really had a great last shift in scoring the goal. What did Nichushkin think of it?
Well, he still doesn’t do media, so we don’t know. But he sure looked happy anyway.
The Avs had a bad start and were trailing 2-0 in the second period. Gibson looked great, and this just seemed like one of those nights. And then, the Avs just outworked the Ducks the rest of the way. That really was the difference. Gradually, the Avs just chipped away, getting a goal from…Nichushkin…to cut the lead in half. Previously, Nichushkin hit both posts with a shot. He, like the Avs, didn’t hang their heads. They just kept coming.
Brandon Saad tied it not long after Nichushkin’s first goal, putting home a rebound in front. The Avs had 34 shots in the game, despite getting a pregame shock of Nathan MacKinnon being a scratch with an upper-body injury.
Nichushkin ended it, with assists to Saad and Devon Toews.
“That was a beautiful goal,” Saad said of No. 13’s game-winner. “This was huge. I thought we had a pretty good road trip, but we had to come out at home too to get started.”
As for MacKinnon, Bednar said this: “I didn’t see him tonight, but he just basically – the afternoon, he wasn’t feeling good. So, the protocol says he can’t play. We’re not going to risk him getting hurt worse. But I would expect he’ll miss a game or two here.” … MacKinnon skated this morning and the team said he’d play. But, obviously, things changed. Bednar said the protocol has to do with the hit from the other night, and not Covid-19. … I thought Conor Timmins had a very good game, for me his best of the season. He was good in his own end and also pretty dangerous at times offensively. “I thought he skated well tonight,” Bednar said … Bednar wasn’t happy at all with his team’s first 30 minutes or so. He said “we looked tired” and “Turned the puck over too much.” But he said the work ethic was much better in the second half. … Saad finished with a goal and two assists. … You know what? For a guy I pretty much had never heard of before recently, I think Dan Renouf has done a nice job with the Avs on defense. He played nearly 13 minutes and got his first career point. …