The dominant run from the Avalanche featured a full-team effort executed by a sturdy foundation of an ultra-driven group that maintained an unwavering belief, trust in the process and commitment to obtaining the goal. Colorado ushered 10 comeback wins during the 20-game run, which is tied for the most in NHL history with the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins. They also never trailed a series, nor did they ever lose two consecutive games throughout the entirety of the historic run.
The Avalanche received point productions from 19 of 21 skaters, all of which produced multi-point performances in the Stanley Cup-winning run. Cale Makar, who went on to win the Conn Smythe (MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs), paced Colorado with 29 points (8G, 21A) through 20 games and Nathan MacKinnon spearheaded the attack with 13 goals and 24 points through 20 games.
The team benefitted from diverse scoring and a balance of players embracing the big stage as nine different players recorded game-winning strikes. Artturi Lehkonen, who Colorado acquired at the Trade Deadline in March via Montreal, showcased his niche for shining among the brightest of lights as he posted the most game-winning goals with four including the series-clinching strikes in the Western Conference and Stanley Cup Finals.
Defensively, the Avalanche flexed their fine-tuned details and discipline. But even their stalwart defense aside, the team utilized both netminders in Darcy Kuemper and Pavel Francouz. Kuemper received the bulk of the workload with 16 starts, but due to injury, Francouz owned the challenge and through seven games, won six games.
Colorado completed its incredible run with 85 goals scored, a 4.25 goals for per game average, a 2.75 goals against average, 20 power play goals for a 32.8% power-play conversion, an 80.4% penalty kill, 759 hits and 309 blocked shots.
The impressive individual and team efforts aside, this run was filled with prolific and meaningful moments, almost storybook-esque all as the group embraced the journey and etched their names onto the silver siding of Lord Stanley.
Look back at some of the most memorable moments from the Avalanche’s memorable Stanley Cup run:
MAKAR’S OT GOAL, FIRST ROUND – GAME 2 – NASHVILLE
After blitzing out with a 7-2 victory in Game 1, Colorado and Nashville fought for inches in a tighter Game 2, which required overtime. Fortunately, Makar sealed the 2-1 victory with a low shot taken from the point past Predators netminder Connor Ingram.
FRANCOUZ CLOSES OUT FIRST ROUND SERIES
Kuemper was sidelined with an injury to his eye in the final minute of the first period of Game 3 against the Predators as an array stick from Nashville forward Ryan Johansen struck Kuemper through his mask.
In his place, Francouz backed the Avalanche to complete the First Round sweep where the Czech goaltender came up with 18 saves in Game 3 and 28 saves in Colorado’s 5-3 Game 4 and series-clinching win.
The Avalanche completed the First Round having outscored the Predators 21-9 in the series and trailed just once.
JOSH MANSON’S OVERTIME WINNER, SECOND ROUND – GAME 1- ST. LOUIS
Colorado took on St. Louis in the Second Round. The Blues presented a deep challenge for the Avalanche as the team boasted top-five special teams and had nine different skaters produce 20-plus goals during the regular season.
The Second Round series got off to a nail-biting start as Game 1 required overtime. Colorado completed its comeback – after losing its only lead in the game late in the third period as St. Louis forced OT – with a game-winning strike from Josh Manson, who the Avalanche acquired from Anaheim at the Trade Deadline to boost their blueline ahead of the postseason.
At 8:02 in overtime, Manson buried his first career goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as he wired a shot from the top of the right face-off circle past the shoulder of Blues goalie Jordan Binnington.
NATHAN MACKINNON HAT TRICK – SECOND ROUND – GAME 2 – ST. LOUIS
Nathan MacKinnon recorded his second-career postseason hat trick in Colorado’s eventual 5-4 overtime loss in Game 5 of the Second Round against the Blues.
With a 3-1 series lead, the Avalanche failed to close out St. Louis in Game 5, but MacKinnon made an extraordinary individual effort with his hat trick – including one power-play goal and a highlight reel goal as he went coast-to-coast late in the third period, made an inside-to-outside move and roofed his shot over Binnington.
MANSON GOAL LINE SAVE – SECOND ROUND – GAME 6 – ST. LOUIS
During Colorado’s Game 6 series-clinching win over the Blues, Manson came up with a clutch defensive play late in the second period – when the Avalanche were trailing 2-1 and on the penalty kill – to keep his team within a goal of a tie game.
As Kuemper shifted outside of his crease to try and smother Jordan Kyrou, he was too far out of position as Kyrou showcased patience and swooped the puck into the slot and threw a backhander at the exposed net. Manson dove into the crease and used his frame to deny the puck from crossing the goal line.
NAZEM KADRI’S INSPIRING PERFORMANCE AND HAT TRICK – SECOND ROUND – GAME 4 – ST. LOUIS
Following a collision between Kadri and St. Louis defenseman Calle Rosen and netminder Jordan Binnington, who suffered a series-ending knee injury and created controversy with Kadri after tossing a water bottle at the Avs forward in his postgame TNT interview, the Avalanche winger was on the receiving end of repulsive messages that he described in his words as, “extreme, racial and threatening.”
The extent and abundance of the outrage was so significant that the St. Louis police became involved in the matter and worked with the Avalanche organization to implement additional safety pr
ecautions outside the team’s hotel and the arena.
But even in the wake of the outrageous and unnecessary backlash, Kadri didn’t just elevate his compete level, he rose above the hatred in a civil manner as he executed his impressive game like the consummate pro he is as he recorded his first-career hat trick in Colorado’s eventual 6-3 Game 4 win over the Blues. His on-ice performance was not impressive from the pure standpoint of sport, but it was an inspiring and meaningful effort as the 31-year-old silenced the hate.
DARREN HELM SERIES CLINCHING STRIKE – SECOND ROUND GAME 6 – ST. LOUIS
With just 5.6 seconds remaining in regulation and the score locked 2-2 apiece, Darren Helm sent Colorado the Western Conference Final for the first time in 20 years with his series-deciding strike in Game 6.
On a transition play up ice and quick passing from Erik Johnson to Logan O’Connor and across the zone, the 35-year-old veteran collected the pass in the Blues zone and fired his shot past Blues goalie Ville Husso to seal the series for Colorado.
In an even more shocking fashion than the last-second goal itself, Helm’s series clincher was scored 13 years to the day of his overtime goal in 2009 that eliminated the Chicago Blackhawks and sent his former club, the Detroit Red Wings to the Stanley Cup Final.
COMPHER’S BACK-TO-BACK TWO-GOAL GAMES
J.T. Compher posted consecutive two-goal outings for the Avalanche between Game 6 of the Second Round against the Blues and Game 1 of the Western Conference Final against Edmonton.
In the Game 6 series-clincher over St. Louis, Compher tallied an even-strength and power-play goal. In the high-flying Game 1 of the Western Conference Final over Edmonton, the 27-year-old winger notched two even-strength strikes.
FRANCOUZ SHINES IN WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL SWEEP
Francouz took over for Kuemper once again in the high scoring 8-6 Game 1 victory of the WCF. Francouz played the remainder of the four-game sweep as Kuemper left the game just under midway in the second period due to an upper-body injury.
The day before his 32nd birthday, Francouz posted a 24-save effort to record his second-career shutout. He’d go on to backstop the Avalanche to the four-game sweep and even made a highlight reel save in Game 3 as he denied Edmonton’s star centerman Connor McDavid on a point-blank chance.
On an Oilers power play in the third period and when the score was tied 2-2, Francouz slid across to the backdoor and gloved down a McDavid one timer in Colorado’s eventual 4-2 victory.
LEHKONEN’S OT GOAL SENDS AVALANCHE TO STANLEY CUP FINAL
Lehkonen produced his first of two pivotal series-clinching goals for the Avalanche as he came through with an overtime winner in Colorado’s 6-5 OT Game 4 win of the Western Conference Final to send Colorado back to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2001. The goal also marked the second-straight year that the Finnish winger sent his team to the Final with an overtime winner as he had done so last year with Montreal in Game 6 over the Vegas Golden Knights.
At 1:19 in overtime against the Oilers, Lehkonen tipped a point shot from Makar on net, as the rebound kicked out to the backdoor, the 26-year-old swooped over and buried the puck into the net to secure the sweep for Colorado.
BURAKOVSKY’S OVERTIME WINNER – STANLEY CUP FINAL – GAME 1 – TAMPA BAY
After being in and out of the lineup throughout the postseason – but being a versatile winger to be deployed in the top or bottom six – Burakovsky buried a one timer to seal the 4-3 Game 1 overtime victory for Colorado in the Stanley Cup Final.
Compher forechecked the puck away from the Lightning in the neutral zone and then fired a shot on net. Tampa Bay netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy kicked the puck out to the slot where his fellow Russian countryman Valeri Nichushkin slid the puck across the slot to Burakovsky. There, the Swedish winger wired the one-timer to the short side of Vasilevskiy.
KUEMPER SHUTOUT, MAKAR BURIES PPG AND SHG – SCF – GAME 2 – TAMPA BAY
After an equal and hard-fought Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Avalanche dominated Game 2 with a 7-0 shutout win. The victory featured a 16-save performance from Kuemper to record his first and only shutout of this postseason run, as well as two-goal efforts from both Nichushkin and Makar.
Makar’s third-period brace featured a power-play goal and a shorthanded snipe. The 23-year-old became the second defenseman in NHL history to score a shorthanded goal and a power-play goal in the same Cup Final game (Glen Wesley, Boston Bruins, 1988)
KADRI SCORES OT WINNER IN RETURN – SCF – GAME 4 – TAMPA BAY
After having to undergo surgery for a hand injury and missing almost the entirety of Game 3 and all of Game 4 of the WCF as well as the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final, Kadri buried the overtime winner in Game 4 against Tampa Bay.
At 12:02 into overtime and on the rush, Kadri cut to the net around Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev and lifted his shot from the right faceoff circle under Vasilevskiy’s right arm for the storybook game winner.
On the play, Kuemper recorded the secondary assist and became the first goalie in NHL history to get an assist on an overtime goal in the Stanley Cup Final.
‘WARRIOR’ EFFORTS FROM COGLIANO AND NICHUSHKIN
The entirety of Colorado’s roster displayed valiant and inspiring efforts en route to winning the Stanley Cup as every player made physical sacrifices.
Andrew Cogliano and Nichushkin stood out especially in the Final for their efforts despite ailments.
Like Kadri, Cogliano underwent surgery for a hand injury in between the Western Conference Final and Stanley Cup Final. The 35-year-old was sidelined for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Fina
l, but played the entirety of the series after making his return in Game 2. Cogliano’s tenacious play down the stretch was inspiring, especially the selfless blocks he laid out for in Game 6 as the Avalanche denied the two-time defending champions of their attempted three-peat.
After suffering a foot injury in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final and having been seen limping to Game 6, Nichushkin played nearly 23 minutes in Colorado’s Cup-clinching victory despite the injury. He continued to implement his relentless forecheck even so.
O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!
Late in the Final as a frustrated and desperate Lightning squad attempted to keep their season alive, Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog lost his skate blade after blocking a shot. As he tried – and struggled – to get to the Colorado bench as quickly as possible, his teammate and close friend in MacKinnon raced over and helped drag him across the ice and onto the bench.
The Avalanche became Stanley Cup Champions on June 26, 2022.
It was a fitting date given that Lehkonen, who wears No. 62 for the Avalanche secured the Game 6 series-clinching victory for the second time during this run and on the date 6.26.22 or 62 x 2.
Lehkonen gave the Avalanche a 2-1 lead at 12:28 of the second period in what would last as the final goal of Colorado’s Cup-winning run. On a three-on-two rush, MacKinnon attempted a return pass to Manson, but the puck deflected off the skate of Tampa Bay defenseman Ryan McDonagh and to Lehkonen. From the left circle, Lehkonen quickly fired his shot glove side past Vasilevskiy.
MAKAR WINS NORRIS, CONN SMYTHE, STANLEY CUP
Makar capped off an incredible Cup win with some extra hardware. In between Games 3 and 4 of the Final, the Calgary native won the 2021-22 James Norris Memorial Trophy.
Makar, who was a finalist for the award last season, became the first player in Avalanche/Nordiques franchise history to win the Norris Trophy. The 23-year-old led all NHL defensemen in goals (28) and finished second in points (86) in the regular season.
He continued his extraordinary efforts with a dominant postseason run where he recorded the third-most points of any skaters on any team and the most among the Avalanche with 29 points (8G, 21A) through 20 games as he was named the 2022 Conn Smythe recipient.
Makar’s 29 points were more than all but three defensemen in NHL history. The only three defensemen to score more are Paul Coffey of the Edmonton Oilers (37 points in 1984-85), Brian Leetch of the New York Rangers (34 points in 1993-94) and Al MacInnis of the Calgary Flames (31 in 1988-89).
Makar is the third defenseman to win the Conn Smythe at age 23 or younger, after Bobby Orr of the 1970 Boston Bruins and Serge Savard of the 1969 Montreal Canadiens.
THE HANDOFF – LANDESKOG TO JOHNSON
After receiving the prized Stanley Cup from the Deputy Commissioner and Chief Legal Officer of the NHL, hoisting the silver trophy above his head as a shower of fireworks fizzled behind him and skating a lap, Landeskog passed the coveted trophy on to Erik Johnson, the longest tenured member of the Avalanche.
It was a meaningful exchange between the best friends, who have practically grown up together and been through just about everything together on and off the ice, including the low point of the 48-point season (2016-17) to becoming forever champions.
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN GRADUATE JACK JOHNSON
Ahead of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, Jack Johnson shared during his media availability that he had officially earned his general studies degree this past spring from the University of Michigan, where he played two years of Division l hockey before turning pro and being selected as the third overall pick at the 2005 NHL Draft.
The road to becoming Stanley Cup champion was a special and deserving one for the 35-year-old veteran. Johnson joined the Avalanche after attending training camp last September on a PTO. During the regular season, he surpassed the impressive 1,000 game milestone.
As the postseason began, Johnson was a healthy scratch. But when Samuel Girard sustained a season-ending broken sternum in Game 3 of the Second Round against St. Johnson drew in the lineup in his place and played the entirety of the run.
For Nicolas Aube-Kubel, it’s all about the first impressions.
Back in mid-November, Aube-Kubel was picked up on waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers by the Avalanche.
The winger provided Colorado with some size and physicality in their bottom-six and his game suited that of intense playoff hockey.
Aube-Kubel made quite the first impression upon his turn with Lord Stanley as he went to join his teammates for the iconic group photo. As Aube-Kubel slid down to the ice with the trophy in hand, he lost his balance and the trophy struck the ice and sustained a dent and an amusing group shot capturing the immediate reactions.
For rookies, Alex Newhook and Bowen Byram, it’s safe to say their first year of professional hockey was quite memorable.
For Byram in particular, it wasn’t a linear trajectory or seamless journey during his rookie season. Byram had been sidelined for a good portion of the
season after sustaining a head injury on Nov. 11. He returned to the lineup off and on for stints, but then was sidelined again from Jan. 10 to April 5.
Fortunately, Byram was able to finish out the regular season and had quite the impact in the postseason where he seemingly improved with every game.
DENVER HOCKEY DOMINANCE
For former University of Denver Pioneer, Logan O’Connor it was quite the year for hockey in Denver.
As a member of the Pioneers, O’Connor helped the Division 1 program claim its eighth national title back in 2017. This past spring, the Pioneers were victorious and earned their ninth national title.
O’Connor, who was undrafted but was invited by the Avalanche to attend development camp in 2018, forewent his senior season with the Pioneers and pursued his pro career. Following stints between the Avalanche and their AHL affiliate the Colorado Eagles, O’Connor was the sole skater to dress in 81 of 82 regular season games and then capped off the season as a Stanley Cup champion.
THREE LEAGUES, THREE TITLES
Avalanche Head Coach Jared Bednar became the first coach to win the current ECHL, AHL, and NHL trophies (Kelly, Calder, and Stanley Cup respectively).
Bednar took over the Avalanche ahead of the 2016-17 season after Patrick Roy abruptly resigned in late August. It wasn’t an easy road to victory for Bednar – especially not after his first season, where Colorado only earned 48 points – but the trust and vision shared between Bednar and Executive Vice President and General Manager/Alternate Governor Joe Sakic didn’t waver as the duo stayed the course and were successful in leading the Cup back to Colorado.
CHAMPIONS ONCE MORE
For Sakic and assistant coach Nolan Pratt, the duo won the Stanley Cup for the third time, respectively, in their careers.
For Sakic, who was formerly the captain of the Avalanche – and Nordiques – from 1992-2009 was the third time that he became a Stanley Cup Champion with the Avalanche, except this time as he constructed the team as General Manager.
For Pratt, he won the Stanley Cup as a player with the Avalanche in 2001 and with the Lightning in 2004.
ALL THE SMALL THINGS
The Blink 182 hit not just served as the team’s anthem and an iconic tradition among Avs Faithful, but it embodied a message of what this run meant to the players, the staff, the organization, the fan base and the sport. Every player had their own story, their own journey and their own impact made as the Avalanche earned their way to becoming forever champions and returning the Stanley Cup back to Colorado.
It was a run built on the foundation of trust, persistence, commitment to achieving the goal and the ultimate dream and attention to all of the small things, systemically on the ice and off the ice as well as a community bonded over the passion for the Burgundy and Blue.