Nichushkin scores winner, Avalanche beat Golden Knights 3-2

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Valeri Nichushkin’s third-period goal held up as the winner for the Colorado Avalanche in a 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday night.

Shortly after Nichushkin pushed Colorado’s lead to two goals, Vegas’ Chandler Stephenson cut the deficit to one. But Colorado goaltender Alexandar Georgiev was clutch down the stretch by stopping the final eight shots he faced to help the Avalanche bounce back from a home loss to Seattle the night before.

“The guys did a great job, whatever they did to prepare they came out really strong from the first period,” said Georgiev, who finished with 34 saves. “And that definitely helps when we’re ready to play like that. Everybody’s in good shape, yeah, fun game to win today.”

Nathan MacKinnon and Evan Rodrigues also scored for Colorado.

Jonathan Marchessault also scored for the Golden Knights. Logan Thompson stopped 22 shots.

Playing for the third time in four nights — and fourth in six over three cities — the Avalanche didn’t appear tired whatsoever, skating with plenty of pep in all three periods.

“Obviously, we don’t get to pick the schedule,” defenseman Cale Makar said. “But yeah, it’s been crazy. We’ve had two back-to-backs already, where we’re getting in late and playing with a rested team the next day, so it is what it is. For us, it’s a good challenge, and that’s kind of the way that we look at it.”

The Avalanche struck first when Mackinnon took a feed from Makar and one-timed it from the top of the circle through traffic and past Thompson.

Marchessault tied it on a power play with less than a minute remaining in the first when he lasered a backhanded pass from Mark Stone past Georgiev. It was Stone’s 300th career assist. He got No. 301 on Stephenson’s goal.

Rodrigues put the Avalanche back on top when his one-time slap shot from the top of the left circle beat Thompson far side and clanked in off the post for a power-play goal early in the second period.

“They’re a talented hockey club, that’s why they just won the Stanley Cup,” Thompson said. “It’s slow, rocky right now. This loss stings, but we’re going to go back and build off it, it’s a long season.”

The road team has now won five straight regular-season meetings.

And because the Golden Knights were the last team to eliminate the Avalanche from a postseason, in 2021, Makar said it’s always a mission to win in Vegas.

“Obviously we lost every game in this building, so every time I come here that’s all I think about,” Makar said.

NOTES: Defenseman Erik Johnson played in his 660th game as a member for the Avalanche, passing Cody McLeod for eighth place on the franchise list. … Samuel Girard’s assist on Rodrigues’ goal broke a tie with Alexei Gusarov (121) for sole possession of ninth place among franchise defensemen in career helpers. … Colorado capitalized on both power-play opportunities to improve to 9 for 17 (52.9%) — best in the NHL. … Colorado’s defensemen have combined for 19 points (4 goals, 16 assists) this year, second highest in the league behind Pittsburgh. … The Golden Knights have scored nine first-period goals in the last four games.

UP NEXT

Colorado: At New York Rangers on Tuesday night.

Vegas: Hosts Toronto on Monday night.

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