Colorado Avalanche

Video: Lindholm’s shootout goal helps the Canes edge the Avs

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Elias Lindholm showed off his sweet hands in the shootout helping the Carolina Hurricanes edge the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 Tuesday night.

Victor Rask also scored in the shootout while Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon were stopped by Anton Khudobin.

The Canes have now won two of three.

Jordan Staal scored his first of the season to open the scoring and Patrick Dwyer had the other Hurricanes regulation goal.

Khudobin made 28 saves to improve to 3-8-2.

Duchene and John Mitchell had the Avs’ regulation goals while Calvin Pickard made 44 saves in the loss.

Video: Jordan Staal opens the scoring with his first of the season

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Jordan Staal netted his first of the season tonight giving the Carolina Hurricanes a 1-0 lead over the Colorado Avalanche after 20 minutes.

It was Staal’s first goal since March 22, 2014.

The 26-year-old of course missed the first 35 games of the season after breaking his fibula during the preseason.

Staal now has a goal and three assists in seven games since returning.

Ovechkin keeps Capitals rolling with victory over Avs


At the age of 29, Alex Ovechkin still has a lot of time left in his career, but he’s already one of the all-time greats when it comes to game-winning goals. He moved into a tie with Marcel Dionne and Mario Lemieux by notching the 74th winner of his career in a 2-1 victory over Colorado.

It was Ovechkin’s fifth winning marker of the season, which puts him one behind defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. His goal came with the man advantage late in the second period to break a 1-1 tie:

That spoiled what was largely a good night for Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov as he turned aside 36 of 38 shots. Meanwhile, Braden Holtby saved 31 of 32 shots to limit the competition to just a goal for the second straight contest.

Washington got off to a shaky 11-10-4 start this season, but they’ve gone 12-1-4 recently. That’s pushed the Capitals into what is shaping up to be a tight battle for the Metropolitan Division title. Just three points separate the Capitals and division-leading Islanders with 40 games remaining on each team’s schedule.

Goalie nods: Flyers give Zepp second career start


All the latest from the crease…

Philly goes with Zepp

Rob Zepp, the 33-year-old journeyman in his first NHL campaign, will make his second career start when the Flyers host the Bolts tonight in Philly.

Zepp, signed this summer out of the German league, was victorious in his big-league debut against Winnipeg last month, stopping 25 of 28 shots for a win in overtime. The veteran was returned to AHL Lehigh Valley shortly after defeating the Jets, but was recalled this past weekend after Philly’s No. 1 netminder, Steve Mason, suffered a lower-body injury.

For Tampa Bay, Evgeni Nabokov will be in goal.


Avs at Caps: Semyon Varlamov vs. Braden Holtby

Leafs at Kings: Martin Jones likely for L.A., no word yet on a Toronto starter.

In praise of Erik Johnson


In what’s been a season of disappointment for Colorado, something fairly significant has occurred.

Defenseman Erik Johnson, the former first overall pick at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, is playing the best hockey of his life. Johnson leads all NHL defensemen in goals, with 12, while averaging a career-high 24:17 TOI per game — two big reasons why he’s been named an All-Star for the first time in his career.

“I’m just getting rewarded for playing well,” he said, per the Denver Post. “I’m a really big believer that if you play the game fair and you play it the right way, if you don’t cheat the game, if you’re in the spot you’re supposed to be, if you’re picking up other teammates when they’re down, and if you’re doing all the right things as a player, the game rewards you.’

That mentality could be why head coach Patrick Roy utilizes Johnson as often as he does. Along with d-pair partner Jan Hedja, Johnson plays most of Colorado’s “tough minutes,” often facing the opposition’s top forwards while getting the majority of his shift starts in the defensive zone (55.6 percent.)

It also represents something of a maturation in Johnson’s game.

Given his pedigree and draft position, Johnson’s promise often exceeded his actual production. He was, lest we forget, just the second-ever American defenseman to be taken No. 1 overall (Bryan Berard was the first, in 1995); he also burst onto the scene as a 19-year-old, scoring 33 points in 69 games as a rookie, and was the centerpiece for the Avs in the 2011 blockbuster deal with St. Louis, one that also included Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Stewart.

Since then, Johnson’s faced more disappointments than successes.

Johnson admits he had a sheltered role in St. Louis and, upon moving to Colorado, struggled to develop a well-rounded game. He was tabbed as a draft bust on a number of occasions — check out the lead from this Post article from November — and suffered a major setback last January, when he was left off the U.S. Olympic roster for Sochi. Johnson, who’s repped America at nearly every level, including the ’10 Olympics in Vancouver, admitted he was “disappointed and upset” by the snub, but has since used it to fuel his fire and play tremendously well.

“It almost looks like, when you’re watching him, that he took the expectations off himself and just goes out there and plays,” Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog said, per the Post. “It’s a lot of fun to watch. Because right now, he’s one of the best defensemen I’ve seen this year.”

It’s also worth pointing out that, despite seven seasons in the league and over 450 games played, Johnson is still only 26 years old. The old NHL adage states that learning to play defense takes longer than any other position, so what we could be witnessing this year is the former No. 1 overall pick finally blossoming into the franchise-type defenseman many envisioned on draft day.