Valeri Nichushkin scored 2 power-play goals, and Darcy Keumper stopped 44 shots for the Colorado Avalanche to beat the Calgary Flames 2-1 in a matchup between Western Conference division leaders.

Jared Bednar, Avalanche coach, said that his team won with a “gutsy win.” “I felt that our team was very committed to the defensive side.

“Power play wins at the end”

The season series was won 2-1 by Colorado, the Central Division leader (47-14-6). The Avalanche won the series 2-1 without Nathan MacKinnon (lower back), their leading scorer, who was injured in a fight with Matt Dumba from Minnesota on Sunday.

Nazem Kadri occupied MacKinnon’s place on the Avs’ top line with Nichuskin & Mikko Rantanen. Kuemper’s record improved to 31-9-3 after he lost his previous two starts.

Kuemper stated, “Definitely a credit the depth of the team.” “The willingness and ability of the guys to step up and make up for those who aren’t there.”

Tyler Toffoli scored 40-18-8 for Pacific Division-leading Calgary. Jacob Markstrom (31-13-77) stopped 28 shots. The Flames are now 2-2-0 in a six-game homestand, which continues Thursday against Los Angeles. Seven points behind the Flames, the Kings are second in Pacific.

The score was tied at 1-1. Colorado took advantage of a tripping penalty given to Elias Lindholm half way through the third period. Mikko Rantanen saw Nichushkin in the front and sent a flawless pass across the slot. Nichushkin was steered behind Markstrom.

Colorado’s power play is proving to be deadly. It converted 2 of 3 opportunities and was 15 for 36 in the Avalanche’s 12 last games (41.7%).

Bednar stated, “Power play is necessary. We need them to step up.” It’s going to get tight.

“That’s how it works down to the stretch and into playoffs. It can be difficult to find scoring opportunities 5 on 5, and even if you do get one (power plays), it’s important to take advantage of them.

Calgary’s penalty killing was poor for the second consecutive game. In their two previous games, the Flames surrendered five power play goals.

Darryl Sutter, Flames coach, stated that there were two games in which individual mistakes and very soft play were made. “First one tonight puck should be down the ice. Forwards had two cracks at this.

“The defenseman will just read the second one. These are mental errors. It’s very simple.”

Mikael Backlund is part of the Flames’ best penalty-killing pairing. He said that it was up to Calgary to rebound in the next game.

He said, “We know it can get better.” “And we know that we have been very solid throughout the year.

“We have had one or two games this year that were similar, but we let too many people in. We rebounded and now we are really solid.”

Chris Tanev stated that the Flames need to get back to work harder.

“We were doing well until we let three goals against Edmonton. Tonight was all special teams. They got two and ours got one. That was the difference in this game,” Tanev stated. “We have to be patient with our clears and on our entries and get back to outworking the PPs that exist.”

Calgary was 4 for 12, having a man advantage in their previous four games. The Flames were unable to convert six of their chances against Colorado, which included two chances in the final seven minutes, both on Kadri penalties. With 16 seconds left, the second came.

The Flames scored at 9:31 in the second to capitalize on a two-man advantage. The Flames secured the 5-on-3 when Rasmus Andersson took Nichushkin’s stick 18 seconds into their first power play.

Although the Flames held possession, they weren’t able generate any good chances at first. Andersson eventually sent a pass across to Toffoli, who one-timed it inside the goalpost from 30 yards.

Matthew Tkachuk assisted on the goal as well, giving him 12 points during a five game point streak.

The Avalanche scored a power-play goal to tie the score after just five minutes. At 13:46, Colorado tied the game when Cale Makar’s goal was deflected in by Nichushkin who was screening Markstrom.

NOTES: Sean Monahan, who was a healthy scratch in the previous two games, has been reinstated to Calgary’s lineup. Arturri Lökonen, a trade deadline acquisition, made his debut for The Avs. He was centered with Alex Newhook and Andre Burakovsky. … Colorado D Samuel Girard (lower back) was absent for his ninth game. He is back skating now.


Colorado hosts the San Jose Sharks on Thursday

Calgary hosts Los Angeles Kings on Thursday