Avs overcoming loss of John­son by adapt­ing

Bar­rie, Holden do­ing their part to keep blue line click­ing

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Terry Frei Terry Frei: tfrei@den­ver­post.com or @TFrei

With Erik John­son out be­cause of a lower-body in­jury, the Avalanche has adapted on de­fense — and kept win­ning.

In vic­to­ries over St. Louis on Wed­nes­day and Nashville on Fri­day, Colorado plugged An­drew Bod­nar­chuk, claimed on waivers from Colum­bus on Tues­day, into John­son’s spot and into what’s con­sid­ered the top pair­ing with Fran­cois Beau­chemin at even strength. But the Avs didn’t use Bod­nar­chuk on the penalty kill or power play, so his min­utes haven’t been eye-catch­ing.

Beau­chemin logged 27 min­utes of ice time against the Preda­tors, Bod­nar­chuk 22. Tyson Bar­rie (29:01) and Nick Holden (28:09) were out even more, and Bar­rie scored the tiebreak­ing pow­er­play goal dur­ing the third pe­riod of the 5-3 win. He now has seven goals this sea­son and is on pace to at least match his to­tals of 12 and 13 the past two sea­sons.

Holden had two as­sists against the Preda­tors.

“You never want to see a guy like E.J. go down. He’s kind of a cor­ner­stone and plays so many big min­utes for us,” Bar­rie said. “But this is a chance for other guys to step up. … Holdie and I are get­ting to see more of the top guys and stuff like that, so it’s ex­cit­ing.”

Said Holden: “The more we play to­gether, the more in sync we are, just mak­ing plays, know­ing where each other’s go­ing to be, read­ing off each other. And it’s be­ing able to talk to each other and get­ting more help. On the bench, if I made a bad play or a bad read, he can come to me and say, ‘Hey, let’s try this,’ and vice versa.

“I feel like our game is in a good spot, and it’s get­ting bet­ter as we progress here and play more to­gether.”

The Avalanche didn’t prac­tice Satur­day be­fore leav­ing for Chicago, where it will face the Black­hawks on Sun­day night. So there were no up­dates on John­son and Brad Stu­art (back), but nei­ther is likely to be avail­able for the game. Bran­don Gorm­ley, who cleared waivers Fri­day, re­mains on the of­fi­cial ros­ter and was a healthy scratch against Nashville.

“They’ve both been play­ing well for a while,” Avalanche coach Pa­trick Roy said of Bar­rie and Holden. “The only game Tyson was soso was against Cal­gary, but he was sick be­fore that and it was his first game back. Other than (that), he’s been re­ally solid for us.”

The Avalanche has a three-game win­ning steak, and head­ing into Nashville’s game at Ari­zona on Satur­day night, had moved into the fi­nal wild-card play­off spot in the Western Con­fer­ence. The Preda­tors and Avalanche both had 45 points, but Colorado had more regulation and over­time wins.

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