Clinched and finding a way.
With a 6-4 result against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena, the Colorado Avalanche have officially clinched a berth in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Heading into Tuesday night’s rematch in their home-and-home set against Pittsburgh, the Avalanche only needed a single point to punch their ticket to the postseason, but the determined group embraced the occasion with their 6-4 result against the pesky Penguins, who rank third in the highly competitive Metropolitan Division with 92 points (41-20-10).
“We’ve built a strong culture here,” Nathan MacKinnon, who posted a two-goal outing in Tuesday’s win, said. “We have a lot of amazing players, [Avalanche Head Coach Jared Bednar] has done an amazing job, obviously [Executive Vice President and General Manager Joe Sakic] has put this team together, but it doesn’t mean anything. We won the President’s Trophy last year. It doesn’t matter if you’re [ranked] eight or one. We just want to get in and do some damage. “
The win featured a valiant full team-effort as eight different skaters got on the scoresheet and Darcy Kuemper came up with 41 saves. In addition to MacKinnon’s two-goal outing, the Avalanche received balanced scoring from their lineup with strikes by JT Compher and Darren Helm as well as from two of their Trade Deadline acquisitions in Josh Manson and Artturi Lehkonenwhile defenseman Devon Toews recorded a game-high three points on three assists.
Especially with a trip to the postseason on the line, it was a ‘gutsy’ effort from the Avs, who have now won four-straight games and are riding a six-game point streak (5-0-1) despite facing an onslaught of ailments as of late. In addition to the absences of the forwards’ lines including Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog and the team’s second-highest leading scorer Nazem Kadri, Valeri Nichushkin did not play. Colorado’s blueline, which is still without Samuel Girard and Ryan Murraydid receive a boost with the welcomed return of Bowen Byram to the lineup.
“Getting those wins adds some confidence to our group,” Alex Newhook, who was admittedly under the weather but still totaled 16:30 of ice time on Tuesday night, said. “It adds some knowledge that we can play these games with this intensity and come out on top.”
For the past three-straight postseasons, Colorado has advanced to the Second Round, but this year’s approach in that regard has been vastly different as MacKinnon iterated. From the get-go, this hyper-focused Avalanche squad has had their sights locked on extending their hopeful journey the full distance.
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As the first team in the NHL to record 40 wins and now 50 wins in the regular season as well as the first team to notch 100 points in the standings – where they currently lead the entirety of the league with 106 points and 50 wins (50 -14-6) – Colorado is far from satisfied. This group is focused on the ultimate prize of hoisting the Stanley Cup, but are mindfully approaching that journey one game, one period and one shift at a time.
Tuesday’s impressive showing was just another positive and reassuring step in that direction.
“We have a talented group with high expectations,” Bednar said. “It’s hard not to like the season we’ve had to this point. But more recently in the last or so, since [Landeskog] has gone out, you look at just the way our team is digging in defensively, playing the right way, the additions at the deadline certainly help us on the defensive side of things, we’re starting to find a bit of our offensive mojo again . In order to win at the most important time of the year, you have to be able to check properly and you have to do that for 60 minutes. Most of our games here recently, we’ve been doing that and against really good teams and down guys. I really like what I’m seeing. I feel like we’re still improving at this point in the year. That’s what we want to do right until the bitter end we’re going to keep working on our game. Guys have bought into that and they’re doing that. “
Avs Faithful! The Colorado Avalanche has officially CLINCHED a spot in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs! Ticketing information for playoff home games will be released mid-April. If you are a Season Ticket Member, you will be receiving information first on how to secure seats for the postseason! The only way to guarantee ticket access to the 2022 playoffs is to become a member. Go to ColoradoAvalanche.com/Memberships today!