Keith Kinkaid makes Avs debut in yellow Bruins pads during Stars’ rout
If the Avs want to keep their reputation as the most feared team in the un-wild west, they’ll have to do better than they did Saturday.
With an opportunity to pull within four points of the division-leading Stars, the Avalanche lost 7-3 in Dallas, falling eight behind instead. It’s the first time Colorado (34-21-5) has gone consecutive games without a point since Jan. 12. The only silver lining of the rout was that Jared Bednar rested his top players for most of the third period, managing their ice time before the second leg of a back-to-back Sunday (7 p.m. MT) vs. Seattle.
Yellow goalie pads
Trade acquisition Keith Kinkaid reported to Avalanche practice for the first time Friday, still wearing his yellow Boston Bruins pads. A new color-appropriate set is “in the making,” the goalie said after practice.
“They haven’t told me anything, so I’m just taking it day by day,” Kinkaid said when asked what he expects his role to be. “They probably don’t want to put the yellow stuff on the ice.”
Bednar pulled starting goalie Alexandar Georgiev for just the second time this season, clearing the net for Kinkaid to make his Avalanche debut in a 5-1 second period — yellow pads and all. He saved eight of the nine shots faced.
It was the second NHL game Kinkaid has appeared in this season. He spent most of the season in AHL-Providence for the Bruins, although he has started as many as 38 NHL games in a season before. He and Georgiev were co-backups for the Rangers in 2020-21, when New York carried three goalies on the NHL roster. “We know each other pretty well,” Kinkaid said.
Feeling Nichushkin’s absence
Valeri Nichushkin was ill and didn’t travel with the team for the one-game trip, so right wing Evan Rodrigues started the game on Nathan MacKinnon’s top line. He has filled in successfully at that role several times this season. It didn’t stick this time.
Rodrigues failed to clear a puck along the defensive-zone boards three minutes into the game, leading to a Dallas goal while the Avs scrambled to get back in position. He was also on the ice when a Miro Heiskanen shot from the point got over his stick and through traffic. At a quick minus-two, Rodrigues stayed on the bench for multiple shifts then rejoined the ice with the fourth line.
Denis Malgin moved up, but lines became more jumbled the remainder of the game. In the third period, Malgin had an even worse whiff on an attempted clear in front of the crease, allowing Dallas to score under Kinkaid’s yellow left pad.
Colorado missed Nichushkin’s physicality in a chippy first period. And the ripple effect of his absence included other less-than-ideal lineup compromises for Bednar. Alex Newhook played second-line left wing for a second consecutive game — even though Bednar said 24 hours earlier that he wanted to move Newhook back to center after disliking his game Wednesday.
Rodrigues got a morale boost with a garbage-time power play goal, aided by Newhook’s second assist and Sam Girard’s third point of the day.
Sudden slump in first period
Entering Wednesday’s matchup with New Jersey, the Avalanche had scored first in 16 of their last 18 games, outscoring opponents 25-4 in the first period during that stretch. Now they have gone into first intermission trailing 3-1 in back-to-back games, both against playoff teams.
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