Two weeks ago there was much gnashing of teeth over the state of Colorado Avalanche. They had lost seven of eight games and fell behind in the Central Division table.
Now, with two games to go before a nine-day hiatus, Colorado is on a six-game winning streak and playing like the team that won it all last year.
The Avalanche will seek their seventh straight win when they host the Anaheim Ducks in Denver Thursday night.
Colorado has won its last four games without All-Star defenseman Cale Makar in the lineup. Makar has an upper-body injury and runs with the team, but the Avalanche are careful with him. They didn’t train or be available for the media on Wednesday, so Makar’s status for Thursday’s game hasn’t been announced.
Colorado has struggled with top player injuries all season — captain Gabriel Landeskog has yet to play — and has relied on its strength, especially up front.
While Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen are the offensive stars, the Avs get help from other lines. Alex Newhook and Andrew Cogliano scored in Tuesday’s 3-2 win over Washington and have continued to contribute.
“This year you had to find a way to work with different options and different types, but I’ve been playing with (Logan O’Connor) for a while now and we’re good at reading each other,” Cogliano said after Tuesday’s triumph . I think we are predictable to ourselves. And for (Newhook), I think he has skills that complement us and I think we’re playing a game that could complement him a little bit.
“We just have to keep going with what we’re doing and create a little spark in that third line. And like I said [defense] is the greatest, and when we get opportunities, use them.
Anaheim clinched a 5-2 win in Arizona Tuesday night, their second win in their last three games. The Ducks are not in the playoffs, and barring an unprecedented stretch over the next five weeks, they will be sellers at the March 3 close.
One player they’re likely to keep is top scorer Trevor Zegras, who extended his scoring streak to six games with an assist against the Coyotes.
Troy Terry also scored to end a 16-game goal drought despite having 12 assists in the last 14 games.
“Troy is our best player and it was great to see him score because it’s been a while, even though he’s had excellent chances every night,” said Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins. “But this is Troy. He has this ability to get through people; he’s amazing at getting pucks under guys’ racquets and controlling them. I think he could easily have added a few more.”
The Avalanche hope Makar can return Thursday, and the Ducks have the same hope for their defenseman John Klingberg, who sat out Tuesday’s game with an illness and is listed as day-to-day ahead of the matchup with Colorado.