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Colorado Avalanche

Avalanche Ride Andre Burakovsky Coattails to Win over Panthers



David Zalubowski/AP

Andre Burakovsky has a lot of offensive talent. And we’re not talking about someone who has yet to “tap” his potential as a hockey player. The fact is, Andre Burakovsky has a Stanley Cup ring on his finger as a member of the Washington Capitals from 2018, and it wasn’t like he was just a passenger, along for the ride in the playoffs (clears throat…Philipp Grubauer).

Burakovsky scored two goals in a Game 7 victory for Washington over Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference finals, then skated a regular shift in the Caps’ Cup victory over Vegas. So, when Burky does something like he did tonight – score the hat trick in a big home win over the Florida Panthers at Ball Arena, it’s not like it came with no advance notice.

I’ll say this right now: I don’t think Burky will be back as an Av next season. I think he’s going to be a UFA and is going to want a ton of money, and the Avs just won’t be able to afford it. I think his spot will be taken by a hybrid of Oskar Olausson and/or Martin Kaut and/or Alex Newhook and that will be that. And, for the sake of Avs fandom, let’s hope Burky goes out with the Avs like he did with the Caps.

(And, hey, I’ve been known to be wrong on UFA stuff before. Maybe he re-signs, and there’s a street named after him in Denver someday). For now, to quote the great Ric Ocasek of the great Boston band, the Cars, “Let the Good Times Roll.”

The Avs won a game tonight because they are a better hockey club than the Florida Panthers, despite the visitors’ gaudy record coming in. Colorado won despite not having the captain, Gabe Landeskog, in the lineup and despite not having leading scorer, Nazem Kadri, in the lineup – nor great young defenseman Bo Byram.

And, the Avs also lost a defenseman in the game. Jacob MacDonald was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a hard, but clean, hit from Panthers forward Ryan Lomberg. MacDonald had his head down some coming out of the corner with a puck, and paid for it with a shoulder check to the upper body. There was no penalty on the hit, and I would bet a million to one against any supplemental discipline from the league to be forthcoming on it.

A lot of people who don’t really know much about the game of hockey want to think they can maybe legislate every bad thing that might happen in a game in which players are traveling at 25-30 mph on skates. But, like death and taxes, bad things are going to happen. I’d love for nobody to ever run a red light ever again in human history, too, but it’s going to happen.

Even Avs coach Jared Bednar agreed.

“I think it looked clean, yeah,” Bednar said.

The good news is, MacDonald was reported, by Avs radio man Conor McGahey, to be alert, responsive and with full motor function not long after being taken off.

The Avs responded in all the right ways after the hit on MacDonald hit. They roughed up plenty of Panthers, and beat them on the scoreboard. Burakovsky was the judge, jury and executioner in all of this.

“We’ve been really good lately, and I think we cleaned it up some on the back end, like we wanted. I think we’re going in the right direction,” Burakovsky said. “If I get a chance to shoot it or make a play, I’m doing it. If someone has a better chance than me, then I’m passing it.”

But Burky had all the best chances tonight, and he took advantage with his excellent shot. Ask hockey people, and they’ll tell you Burakovsky has one of the best releases in the league with his shot. It’s quick, fast and accurate much of the time.

Burakovsky’s final goal broke a 2-2 tie, and the Avs had to hang on at the end, when Florida went on the power play with 1:18 left. Darcy Kuemper was sprawled out a couple of times, but managed to keep the puck out of the net in those tense final seconds.

Erik Johnson also made a big play at the end, helping stop a puck that might have gone over the goal line otherwise.

The Avs are now 16-7-2, and it was nice to see them win a tough, defensive-minded game too. You can’t score seven goals every night.

The Avs only got three tonight, and from only one player. But they were the better team, and deserved the win.

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