CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Andre Burakovsky got promoted to Colorado’s top line Tuesday night and took full advantage.
Playing with Nathan MacKinnon and Joonas Donskoi, the Austrian forward scored twice to lead the Avalanche to a 3-2 victory over the slumping Calgary Flames.
“Sometimes that just happens. Every shot you have goes in somehow,” said the 24-year-old Burakovsky, who has netted five of his 10 goals this season in the last three games. “I’ve been playing with great players and they’re giving me a lot of looks.”
The opening at left wing on the top unit was the result of a head injury sustained in Colorado’s previous game by Matt Calvert, who has been placed on injured reserve.
“(MacKinnon) can do so much with the puck. Normally a guy could need a little bit of support, but he’s kind of dancing off guys easy and using his speed to create space for himself,” Burakovsky said. “When you play with him, the challenge for the other guys is to find the open ice because when you do, the puck is going to come.”
MacKinnon assisted on both of Burakovsky’s goals to give him 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in his last six games.
Vladislav Kamenev also scored for Colorado (13-6-2), which has won five of six. The Avalanche are 3-1-0 on a five-game road trip that wraps up Thursday in Minnesota.
Derek Ryan and Andrew Mangiapane scored for Calgary (10-11-3), which has lost five straight — the last four in regulation.
Philipp Grubauer got the win in his first game back after missing five with a lower-body injury. He had 31 stops to improve to 7-3-2.
Colorado was missing five regular forwards who are sidelined: Calvert, Mikko Rantanen (lower body), Gabriel Landeskog (lower body), Colin Wilson (lower body) and Tyson Jost (upper body).
“It was huge, guys stepping up,” Grubauer said. “Hopefully we get a couple guys back, but it was definitely nice to see, to get those performances.”
David Rittich made 23 saves for the Flames and fell to 9-6-3.
The Avalanche opened the scoring 3:21 in when Burakovsky took a cross-ice pass from MacKinnon and fired a shot just inside the post.
Before the first period was over, Burakovsky made it 2-0 at 18:45 by ripping a shot under the crossbar shortly after a faceoff win by MacKinnon.
“He’s got as good a shot as anyone on our team and we need to see him keep using it more,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said.
The 2-0 lead for the Avs came despite being outshot 13-7.
Kamenev, set up by J.T. Compher on a 2-on-1, made it 3-0 at 13:15 of the second before the Flames got on the board at 17:41 when Ryan beat Grubauer under the crossbar.
The goal ended Calgary’s scoreless streak at 167 minutes, 44 seconds, dating back to the third period against Dallas last Wednesday. The Flames were shut out in both games on their weekend trip to Arizona and Vegas.
“Before the game there’s a lot of energy in the dressing room, energy on the bench,” said Ryan, who has four goals. “We give up a couple goals and all of a sudden the body language goes down a little bit, guys are frustrated, guys are down on themselves, down on each other.”
Calgary has fallen behind 16 times in 24 games.
“I thought we were more engaged today than in other games,” Flames left wing Matthew Tkachuk said. “But it’s tough, playing from behind all the time. We’ve got to change that because this is a very, very, very important road trip for us and we want to play better on the road.”
Calgary drew within one on Mangiapane’s fourth goal at 15:44 of the third, setting up a furious finish. But despite getting a power play for the last 21 seconds and pulling their goalie, the Flames couldn’t take advantage of the 6-on-4.
Calgary also has run into injury issues with Travis Hamonic (lower body) and Sam Bennett (upper body) the latest to be sidelined.
“There is adversity for sure. There is adversity in the fact that we haven’t won recently, adversity in the fact we’ve got some guys down, but that’s everybody in the league,” Flames coach Bill Peters said. “Across the league you’re going to hit it at some point, where you’re banged up, lots of injuries. Nobody feels sorry for you when it happens.”
NOTES: Inserted for Hamonic was Brandon Davidson, who made his debut on the Flames blue line. … Also playing in his first game for Calgary was Zac Rinaldo, just up from Stockton (AHL). The Flames are his fifth NHL team.
Avalanche: At the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.
Flames: At the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues on Thursday night to begin a four-game trip.
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