J.T. Compher had not recorded a point in six consecutive Avalanche games before Wednesday night. During the drought, the coaching staff stepped in to remind the fifth-year NHL forward why they haven’t lost faith in him.
Compher — in addition to struggling teammates Val Nichushkin and Andre Burakovsky — were called in for individual meetings to watch tape of their best play from last season, coach Jared Bednar said. All three players proved they got the message in Colorado’s 6-2 loss against Minnesota.
“They were our best line,” Bednar said.
Compher broke his scoring drought with a top-shelf wrister set up on a rush by defensemen Devon Toews and Sam Girard. It was difficult to celebrate the moment following a lopsided defeat. Yet Compher’s confidence is growing.
“I’d love to be more productive and continue what I did tonight,” Compher said. “For me, it’s continuing to do defense first and work on my details. The goals will come. I’ve got to continue to trust my shot and trust my skill.”
Bednar paired Burakovsky, Compher, and Nichushkin on the team’s third line Wednesday. Roster composition is expected to change with consecutive games ahead at Arizona, but their chemistry was clearly a positive as the team searches for answers after back-to-back losses.
“That’s the hardest working game I’ve seen Val and Compher have this year,” Bednar said. “And they got rewarded for it.”
Gruby confidence. Avs goalie Philipp Grubauer allowed a season-high five goals on Wednesday after a stretch of mostly superb play — although Bednar did not pin the lopsided outcome directly on Grubauer’s efforts. He stopped 19-of-24 shots with one of Minnesota’s goals coming on an empty net.
“We didn’t get some of the saves that we’d been getting from him, but I didn’t hate (Grubauer’s) game,” Bednar said. “It’s a 3-2 game part of the way through the third period. … Too many easy ones. That’s why it ends up at six, right? Part of it is a little bit of a press at the end when they get their fourth one. So, we’ve got to take chances. They handled it well and they scored. They put the game away.”
The Avalanche (9-6-1) now turns its focus to the Coyotes (9-7-3) on Friday night.
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