The Colorado Eagles, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Avalanche, had two recent full-time players in the Avs’ lineup Monday night in Game 5 against the Dallas Stars in Edmonton.
Defenseman Conor Timmins, making his NHL playoff debut, played alongside partner Sam Girard in Colorado’s 6-3 victory at Rogers Place. And forward Logan O’Connor, who was playing in his third NHL playoff game, was the right winger on Colorado’s fourth line.
They both played well. Timmins logged 14:44, fifth among the Avs’ six defensemen, and was plus-1. O’Connor, the former University of Denver standout, played 12:23 and had the primary assist on the Avs’ first goal scored by veteran Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
“We know he’s got speed,” Bellemare, 35, said of O’Connor, 24, who collected his first career playoff point with a back-pass from the right wing to the trailer. “He’s got such good speed he got the puck and tried to attack and he made a play. I’m coming behind, I don’t know if he sees me … but it’s an unbelievable pass. And it’s just there for me to shoot it.
“At the end of the day, his legs and his (skating), it’s not that easy to come in like this and just jump in but he’s doing an unbelievable job.”
Avs coach Jared Bednar used Timmins in place of Kevin Connauton, who had replaced Erik Johnson after the alternate captain was injured in Game 1. Timmins, 21, made his NHL debut on opening night in October but was sent back to the Eagles after the second game with the Avs. He and O’Connor each played 40 games with the Eagles.
“We’ve liked what he’s done since we’ve been here,” Bednar said of Timmins, selected by the Avs with the 32nd pick in the 2017 draft. “We’ve moved him into the big group when EJ got hurt. Watching him practice, letting him get comfortable, sitting in on meetings and bringing him up to speed. We kind of run two groups on most days. We’ve liked what we’ve seen.”
Bednar partly chose Timmins over Connauton because the former gives the blueline a second right-shot that Johnson provided. Young star Cale Makar is the other available right-shot defenseman.
“I thought he was great,” Bednar said of Timmins. “To come in as a young guy into that type of game against a real good team in Dallas and do what he did for us tonight, I thought he had a lot of poise. He moved the puck real well, used his first option, didn’t complicate things. He was a real good defender. I really liked his night.”
MacKinnon streak. Hart Trophy finalist Nathan MacKinnon had two points (one goal) to increase his NHL-leading playoff scoring total to 23 points. He has now scored in all 13 postseason games, the longest playoff run since Chicago’s Jonathan Toews had a 13-game stretch in 2010.
MacKinnon, who turns 25 on Tuesday, is one of four players to have a point streak of 13 or more games to start the postseason, joining Bryan Trottier (18 games in 1981), Mark Messier (14 games in 1988 and 13 games in 1994) and Bobby Orr (14 games in 1970 and 13 games in 1972).
Footnotes. MacKinnon and teammate Nazem Kadri each have eight goals this postseason, the first time the Avs have had two players with eight-plus goals in the playoffs since 2002 (Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg each had nine). … Makar, who had an assist in a team-high 24:26, has 14 points in the playoffs — tied for second-most in NHL history among rookie defensemen behind Boston’s Glen Wesley in 1988 (16).
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