Johansen scores twice, Avalanche beat Lightning 4-1 for 4th straight win

Avalanche Defeat Lightning
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Avalanche Defeat Lightning
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) — Ryan Johansen scored twice, Alexandar Georgiev made 37 saves and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 on Monday night for their fourth straight win.

Cale Makar added a goal and an assist, while Valeri Nichushkin sealed the win with an empty-net score. Makar now has 20 assists in November, moving the Avalanche defenseman one away from matching the most in a month in franchise history. Peter Stastny holds the mark with 21 assists in October 1983.

“From my point of view, I still think I can do a lot more,” Makar said. “A lot of effort by the other guys and I’m just kind of dishing it up.”

Nathan MacKinnon suited up despite being under the weather and missing the morning skate. He recorded two assists to become the third player in Colorado/Quebec history to notch at least a point in each of the opening 10 home games to start the season.

“I liked our game,” said Avalanche coach Jared Bednar, whose team has won seven of eight. “For the most part, I felt like we were checking and doing the right things and playing hard.”

Anthony Cirelli scored for the Lightning. They had a goal from Michael Eyssimont negated in the second period when the Avalanche challenged the play for offside.

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 19 of 22 shots in his second game back. He missed the start of the season after undergoing microdiscectomy for a lumbar disc herniation. The Lightning plan to carefully manage the workload of the 2018-19 Vezina Trophy winner.

Cirelli cut into a 3-0 deficit on a breakaway goal with 30 seconds remaining in the second period.

From there, Georgiev shut the door. He came up clutch early, too, stopping 13 shots in the first period. That included a breakaway chance by Nikita Kucherov, the NHL’s second star of the week.

“We didn’t have it tonight and that rarely happens,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “The harder they tried, the worse it got. It was just one of those tough nights for us.”

Johansen got the Avalanche offense going with a goal in the first period when he took advantage of a slip by Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman. Johansen added another in the second when he knocked home a rebound.

“That was like slow motion,” Johansen said of his second goal. “It just kind of popped out there, and no one seemed to know where it was but me. I’m just happy I didn’t mess it up.”

A crucial play in the game was a challenge of Eyssimont’s goal. On replay, it was ruled that defenseman Nick Perbix was in the zone a split second before the puck.

“Obviously that’s a really good team over there, but any team in this league, you give them three, it’s hard to climb out of,” Cirelli said.

The short-handed Avalanche remain without forward Artturi Lehkonen (upper body) and defenseman Samuel Girard (entered the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program). They dodged another potential scary injury with defenseman Josh Manson, who appeared to catch a skate near his chin while down on the ice. He later had a bandage on his face.

The Avalanche and Lightning will meet one more time on Feb. 15 at Tampa Bay, where Colorado clinched its 2022 Stanley Cup title in six games over the Lightning.


Lightning: Finish a three-game trip Tuesday in Arizona.

Avalanche: At Arizona on Thursday to start a three-game road swing.