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Friday, March 31, 2023

NHL News: Avalanche lose Artturi Lehkonen ahead of visit to Maple Leafs

NHL News: Avalanche lose Artturi Lehkonen ahead of visit to Maple Leafs


The Colorado Avalanche will be without Artturi Lehkonen when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs Wednesday night.

The left winger suffered a broken finger during the second period of an 8-4 victory over the Montreal Canadiens Monday in the opener of a four-game trip.

Lehkonen had two goals and an assist before he was injured in his first game in Montreal since the Canadiens traded him to the Avalanche on March 21, 2022.

“It’ll be four, six weeks. Maybe more. It’s a huge loss,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar told Altitude Sports Radio on Tuesday. “Good thing is it’s his finger. It’s his top hand and he can continue to train.”

Lehkonen has career bests of 20 goals and 29 assists in 62 games this season.

The Avalanche are also without forwards Gabriel Landeskog and Darren Helm, defensemen Erik Johnson and Kurtis MacDermid and goaltender Pavel Francouz.

The Avalanche recalled forward Alex Galchenyuk from the Colorado Eagles of the AHL on Tuesday. He has no points in four games with the Avalanche this season and 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) in 33 AHL games.

In winning for the third time in four games, Colorado had a goal and two assists from Valeri Nichushkin and a goal and an assist apiece from Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon. Cale Makar had three assists.

“I thought the pace that we played with in the first period and the execution was phenomenal,” Bednar said. “Not that we created a ton of chances but the chances that we did create were good ones and our guys did a nice job capitalizing on some nice moves and some good shots.”

The Maple Leafs are coming off a 4-3 home loss to the Buffalo Sabres after wasting a 2-0 lead.

The Leafs took the lead early in the second period on goals by Auston Matthews and Calle Jarnkrok. Buffalo scored four straight goals, three in the third period.

“We got two goals early in the (second) period, puts us in a good spot,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “I didn’t think we took care of it very well from there and then just allowed it to snowball. When you don’t exit out of your zone cleanly, they get rolling and they get momentum, and now you’re tired and you can’t play your game. … I thought we played better in the third. Our second period was our worst period by far, maybe of the season to be honest.”

William Nylander scored for Toronto with 62 seconds left, but it was far from enough.

“It kind of felt like we stopped working,” Jarnkrok said. “It’s tough to win when you don’t.”

“You’ve got to play with intelligence,” Keefe said. “We’re up 2-0 in the second period on home ice. … you’ve got to win that game. We had a real struggle getting out of our end and through the neutral zone.”

Matt Murray played his second consecutive game in goal for Toronto.

“(Murray has) been great,” Keefe said. “The numbers may look terrible, but there were some tap-ins (Monday), less than 3 feet from the crease.”

Toronto defeated Colorado 6-2 in Denver on Dec. 31.

–Field Level Media

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