Ducks Avalanche Hockey

Anaheim Ducks left wing Sonny Milano, back, right, flips the puck in for a goal past Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper, left, as left wing Tyson Jost comes in to defend in the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Even as the last line of defense was having a string of highly unusual technical difficulties, the Colorado Avalanche blue line held up and the offense kept churning.

Colorado didn’t beat up a struggling team this time. The Anaheim Ducks finished last in the West Division last season but were off to a 10-6-3 start. Once their goaltending issues were resolved, the Avalanche picked apart the Ducks in Wednesday’s 5-2 win at Ball Arena. The Avalanche (10-5-1) have averaged exactly six goals per night during their current six-game win streak.

For the second straight game, goalie Darcy Kuemper’s skate fell apart. This time it wasn’t behind the play, but rather while the Avalanche were already at a disadvantage – on the penalty kill. He fell in the crease while his blade slid to the corner and Sonny Milano scored to put the Ducks up 1-0.

As coach Jared Bednar described it, the new blade holder – swapped out during the last game – also malfunctioned. They plan to switch brands before the next game.

“You rarely see it happen even once,” Bednar said. “I’ve seen players lose it. You see the odd goalie every once in a while. I’ve never seen it as often and certainly not in back-to-back games.”

Backup Jonas Johansson once again got loose while Kuemper went toward the locker room. Johansson played 2:25 on Monday but wound up eventually taking over for Kuemper against the Ducks. Kuemper watched from the bench in a baseball cap as Johansson made 19 saves.

“If it’s for two minutes or the rest of the game, it doesn’t really matter,” Johansson said. “I just try to focus when I’m out there.”

Johansson was told in the tunnel on his way out that he’d finish the game.

“At that point I was like JJ’s gone in, he’s ready, he’s mentally in the game,” Bednar said. “He made a couple big stops. And I felt like that’s his game now.”

Cale Makar tied the game at 1 with a hard-angle shot from the boards, his sixth goal in four games. Nazem Kadri had the primary assist to extend his own scoring streak to 10 games (5 goals, 15 assists.)

Kadri then scored on the power play early in the third period to make the score 4-1. Valeri Nichushkin scored late in the third period for his seventh point in seven games this season.

“As soon as Val came back on their line they’ve been lights-out, playing really well for us,” captain Gabriel Landeskog (2 assists) said. “Obviously Naz is producing at a crazy level right now and feeling really good."

Linemates Alex Newhook and Nicolas Aube-Kubel put the game away with second-period goals. Newhook followed up his game-winner in Monday’s wild win over the Ottawa Senators, redirecting a Devon Toews slap shot.

Aube-Kubel whiffed on his initial shot but got another chance when the puck bounced off Simon Benoit’s skate and right back to him.

“I haven’t scored much in Philly and it’s good to have here and help the team win,” Aube-Kubel, who was picked up off waivers by Colorado, said.

Kurtis MacDermid re-entered the lineup at forward, playing that position in a game for the first time in his career. He dropped the gloves with Nicolas Deslauriers 3:18 into the game. The experienced fighters circled, jabbed and exchanged blows for about 45 seconds before officials stepped in.

Note: Jared Bednar became the winningest head coach in Avalanche history with a 194th regular-season victory.

“He’s been a very steady presence for us in that locker room and continued to get better just as we all try to do,” Landeskog said. “He's a good communicator and a good coach. Has a good system in place that he’s pretty firm on and he believes in. That helps us players, knowing that our coach believes and (it) kind of translates to the group. I’m happy for him.”