Avalanche rally for OT victory against Ducks without MacKinnon


DENVER — Valeri Nichushkin scored his second goal of the game at 2:45 of overtime to give the Colorado Avalanche a 3-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks at Ball Arena on Friday.

Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon was a late scratch after not feeling well prior to the game. He was injured in the third period of a 4-0 win at the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday when forward Joachim Blichfeld hit MacKinnon’s head with his shoulder. Blichfeld was assessed a match penalty and was suspended for two games by the NHL Department of Player Safety for an illegal check.

“The protocol says he can’t play, and we’re not going to put him out there and risk him getting hurt or something, or making it worse,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “I don’t know what that means as far as tomorrow or the next day, but I’m assuming he’s going to miss a couple games here.”

Brandon Saad had a goal and two assists, and Philipp Grubauer made 26 saves for Colorado (13-7-1), which opened a nine-game homestand after going 3-1-0 on the road.

“A guy like ‘Val’ stepping up tonight, that’s huge,” Avalanche forward Joonas Donskoi said. “I’m just happy for him. He comes to the rink, he works hard every day, and he really deserved those goals.”

Adam Henrique and Jakob Silfverberg scored, and John Gibson made 31 saves for Anaheim (6-12-6), which is 0-6-3 in the past nine games.

“Another one where we’re kind of right there,” Silfverberg said. “But at the end of the day, we get one point. But it’s two points that we want and that we desperately need. Obviously, not satisfied. I think we played a pretty good game, just got to score more goals. We’ve been talking about it all year. We’re doing a lot of good stuff, it’s just the last little bit that it takes to get two points in this league. Unfortunately, we’ve been on the wrong end of it a few too many here lately.”

The teams are scheduled to play again here Saturday.

Nichushkin made a power move to the net to score his first NHL overtime goal.

“I thought he played well,” Bednar said. “He was driving and was reminding me of a lot of plays that he was making last year, coming to the net hard with and without the puck, so he’s rewarded twice.”

The Ducks outshot the Avalanche 2-1 in overtime.

“It is incredible,” Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins said. “In overtime there, we had an unbelievable chance and just missed. A couple others as well. The thing is you have no other choice, you just have to keep shooting the puck, getting the puck in the right spot, and staying after it. We are getting our chances. If we weren’t, that would be a different conversation.”

Henrique gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead with 10 seconds left in the first period after a turnover by Avalanche forward Tyson Jost. Rickard Rakell passed from behind the net to Henrique, who scored from the slot.

Nazem Kadri scored for Colorado at 14:52 of the first, but the goal was disallowed because he swatted the puck in with a high stick.

Silfverberg made it 2-0 at 2:22 of the second period with a short-side shot from the right face-off circle.

Nichushkin cut it to 2-1 at 14:46 when he scored off Donskoi’s pass.

Saad tied it 2-2 at 17:23 of the second when he scored on the rebound of Jost’s backhand.

“I give our team a lot of credit for sticking with it, finding a way to get a little better as the game went on, but as far as what I thought of the game, I didn’t like the game at all,” Bednar said. “It was just sloppy, too many turnovers. We looked tired. That first game back off a road trip is tough, but that wasn’t a good game by us.”

NOTES: Ducks defenseman Josh Manson was minus-1 with seven hits, five blocked shots and one shot on goal in 18:46 in his first game since sustaining an oblique injury Jan. 18 against the Minnesota Wild. … Rakell has two goals and four assists during a four-game point streak. … It was Nichushkin’s third multigoal game in the NHL and his first since Jan. 3, 2016, for the Dallas Stars against the New York Islanders. He has not scored a hat trick in the NHL. … Avalanche defenseman Dan Renouf had an assist on Saad’s goal for his first NHL point in his fifth game.

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