Gabe Landeskog (B-) – The Avs captain was one of the more physical players on the ice. I thought he tried to stickhandle the puck a bit more than he maybe should have. A lot of Colorado players did. Landeskog played nearly 22 minutes, the most of any Avs forward.
Nathan MacKinnon (B-) – MacKinnon has been held scoreless nine times this season. A third of those games have come against Vegas.
The Golden Knights have done a great job shutting down MacKinnon all season long, and did another solid job tonight.
Mikko Rantanen (C+) – You could see the frustration in Rantanen tonight. He had a target painted on his back from the opening puck drop, it seemed. Vegas was all over him; he was pegged with a penalty, hit high (Player Safety should be taking a look at this one) and couldn’t seem to get any space on the ice…no Avalanche player could, for that matter. Frustrating night for Rantanen, but the Avs eke out the win without the help of the top line tonight.
Alex Newhook (B) – He’s only four games into his NHL career, but I love the confidence this kid plays with. He was playing physical—or trying to—but it seemed he was bouncing off most checks. He looks a bit small out there, but I like his tenacity.
He picked up his second and third career NHL points tonight, and now has three points and is +4, averaging about 13 minutes a night.
Nazem Kadri (B-) – Made a nice give-and-go pass to Andre Burakovsky to tie the game in the second. Kadri had a number of chances tonight—he whiffed on a nice chance in the first; thought he scored early in second; mishandled a breakaway pass late in the second, and rounded out the game with a couple of more chances that weren’t buried.
Another frustrating night for Kadri, I’m sure, but overall he had a nice game. He led the team with seven hits tonight.
Andre Burakovsky (A) – He had some legs tonight, but an errant dump-in attempt in the first period led to an icing. Right off that icing faceoff, Vegas got on the board. It’s those little things—or what coach Bednar would call details—that will make or break a game. Tonight, fortunately, the Avs survived those lapses in detail, and they did it with the help of Burakovsky.
He extended his point streak to six games and is up to six goals and 14 points in his last 11.
Joonas Donskoi (D) – Donskoi had a tough night for sure. He just couldn’t seem to get any ice throughout the game, and then he had a disaster of a shift that led to a Golden Knights power play in the third period. He was moved to the fourth line late in the game.
Tyson Jost (C) – Didn’t notice much of Tyson Jost, to be honest. Coach Bednar said after the game that Jost was skating well tonight, though.
Val Nichushkin (B) – Big Val was named the Avs nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy earlier today. He had a couple of Vintage Val gallops around the D-man to the net tonight and was as active with his stick as he usually is. He chipped in four hits, to boot. Solid game by Val.
Carl Soderberg (C-) – Since he’s returned to the Avalanche, I haven’t noticed Carl Soderberg at all. Like not at all. That said, he made a couple of quietly-nice defensive plays, but he’s been far too quiet over in his return to Denver.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (C) – He laid his body out on the line on a number of occasions tonight. That’s about all you can ask for in a game where Vegas dominated the puck possession.
J.T. Compher (A) – Scored a huge, greasy goal to steal the game from the Golden Knights in the third. He led all forwards with three blocks, as well…most of which came from a huge PK right before his go-ahead goal. Big night for J.T.
Devon Toews (B) – Toews played nearly 25 minutes tonight and had a solid game, all things considered. He laid four hits, had two blocks and was a big part of a penalty kill that went 3-for-3 tonight.
Cale Makar (B+) – Couple shots on goal, couple trots to the net, hits, 24 minutes played. Another pretty typical night from Cale Makar, who is easily the most consistent D-man on the Avs roster.
Ryan Graves (A) – Ryan Graves was the victim of one of the many poor calls made by the officiating crew early in tonight’s contest. Graves was dinged for what the refs referred to as “roughing” in the first period. That only further fueled the feistiness in Graves’ game tonight. I like the compete he played with tonight. He led the team with four blocks, too.
Conor Timmins (B) – He picks up another assist on the game-winning goal. He’s up to four helpers and +5 in his last six games.
Patrik Nemeth (C) – Nemeth led the charge with nearly four minutes of PK time. He played very physical in his own zone and led the Avs blueline with six hits.
Jacob MacDonald (C) – He made some quiet, good plays throughout the night in very limited time (11:06 TOI). Those quiet, good plays are what’s keeping him in the lineup. Jacob MacDonald is becoming known for being very defensively reliable. Nothing flashy, nothing fancy. But it’s effective.
Philipp Grubauer (A+) – Coach Bednar was asked about eking the win out after the game. His answer: “Simple answer: goaltending…Without him, we don’t win tonight.”
He made 36 saves tonight and singlehandedly stole the victory straight from the vice-grip grasp of the Golden Knights. The Presidents’ Trophy and home-ice advantage hopes live on.