Valeri Nichushkin lifts Avalanche to overtime win over Ducks, who have lost nine straight

Ducks goalie John Gibson looks back into the net on the winning goal by Colorado's Valeri Nichushkin (13) on March 5, 2021.
Ducks goalie John Gibson looks back into the net to see the puck on the game-winning goal by the Colorado Avalanche’s Valeri Nichushkin in overtime Friday night. Colorado won 3-2.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

Valeri Nichushkin scored his second goal of the game 2:45 into overtime, Philipp Grubauer made 26 saves, and the Colorado Avalanche rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the struggling Ducks 3-2 on Friday night.

Nichushkin circled around a defender and then slid a shot past John Gibson for the winner. The 6-foot-4 forward was mobbed by teammates in the corner.

“That was a beautiful goal,” said teammate Brandon Saad, who had a goal and two assists. “He was sharp tonight. Anytime he uses his big body and his speed, he’s tough to handle.”


Nichushkin and Saad helped pick up the scoring slack with Colorado missing star player Nathan MacKinnon, who was a late scratch. MacKinnon left in the third period Wednesday in San Jose after taking a hit to the head.

Mike Hoffman scored in overtime as the St. Louis Blues rallied for a 3-2 win over the Kings, who have lost four straight after a six-game win streak.

March 5, 2021

“This afternoon, [MacKinnon] came down and wasn’t feeling good, so the protocol says he can’t play and we’re not going to put him out there and risk him getting hurt or something, or making it worse,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar explained. “I don’t know what that means as far as tomorrow or the next day, but I’m assuming he’s going to miss a couple games here.”

With Colorado trailing 2-0 in the second period, Nichushkin and Saad scored 2:37 apart to even things up. Both of their goals were in front of Gibson, who stopped 31 shots.

“We started off a little slow. It was a good bounce-back character win,“ Saad said. “That definitely gets you feeling good in the right direction.”

Adam Henrique and Jakob Silfverberg scored for the Ducks (6-12-6), who dropped to 0-6-3 over their last nine. The Ducks haven’t won since beating Vegas on Feb. 11.


Highlights from the Ducks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the host Colorado Avalanche on Friday night.

“We’re doing a lot of good stuff,“ Silfverberg said. “It’s just the last little bit that it takes to get two points in this league. Unfortunately, we’ve been on the wrong end of it a few too many here lately.”

Both of the goals that beat Grubauer were on wrist shots, including one by Silfverberg after he skated from end-to-end.

Henrique staked the Ducks to a 1-0 lead on a nifty wrist shot with 9.4 seconds remaining in the first period.

Nazem Kadri had a first-period goal disallowed after he batted in a puck once it caromed off the glass. The officials took a long look on replay before determining Kadri’s stick was above the crossbar when he made contact.

Colorado (13-7-1) began a nine-game home stretch, which is the longest continuous homestand in Avalanche history. The team did have a nine-game homestand in 2002, but that included an Olympic break.

“Just hanging out at home and sleeping in your own bed and not having to travel, obviously, that pays dividends,” Kadri said.

It will also be the busiest month in Avalanche history with 17 games in 31 days.

Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog and his wife, Melissa, recently welcomed a baby boy. The couple also have a daughter.

Bednar believed the two-game suspension issued to San Jose forward Joachim Blichfeld for his hit on MacKinnon was a fair punishment.

“He doesn’t do any of the things that sometimes players do when it’s a predatory hit,” Bednar explained. “I don’t think it was intentional.”

The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Assn.’s progress has been slowed by the pandemic, but the ‘Dream Gap’ tour injects the effort with hope.

March 5, 2021

Ducks defenseman Josh Manson (oblique muscle injury) returned to the lineup for the first time since Jan. 18.

“I thought he played excellent,“ Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “This is a tough building to come in and return to after being out that long. The air is thin. You feel it just walking up the stairs here.”

Avalanche defenseman Dan Renouf had an assist for his first career NHL point. Defensemen Cale Makar and Bowen Byram are day-to-day with upper-body injuries. Defenseman Dennis Gilbert was added to the league’s COVID-19 protocol list. He was already out after surgery on his face. Forward Matt Calvert (upper body) skated in a non-contact jersey Friday morning.

The Ducks and Avalanche play again Saturday. The Ducks are 1-1 this season in the second game of a back-to-back, while Colorado is 2-0-1.