LA VEGAS — Nazem Kadri enjoyed the camaraderie with his Central Division teammates during the 2022 Honda NHL All-Star Game at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday.
“That was my favorite part was meeting the guys from different teams and having a quick chat,” the Colorado Avalanche forward said. “I don’t think we’re going to be that friendly in the future, but it was good for the weekend.”
Kadri and the Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar helped Central defeat the Atlantic Division 8-5 in a semi-final before losing to the Metropolitan Division 5-3 in the final.
Kadri had two goals and one assist in two games in his first All-Star Game in 13 NHL seasons after winning the Last Men In vote for Central. He is now focused on his bid to win Central and have a long run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Avalanche (32-8-4) are first in Central, eight points ahead of the Nashville Predators (28-14-4) with two games in hand. Colorado should receive Nathan MacKinnon back soon. The forward missed three games and the 2022 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend after suffering a concussion and a facial fracture during the first period of a 4-3 overtime win over the Boston Bruins January 26.
The return of MacKinnon, who has 43 points (nine goals, 34 assists) in 31 games this season, is one more challenge for Colorado’s opponents.
“They’re a great team, obviously,” said Predators captain Romain Josi noted. “We had some really fun games against them, especially this last one. [a 5-4 overtime win for the Predators on Jan. 11] was really intense. It’s one of the best teams in the league; I think all of Central are playing really well right now, so it’s a close race.”
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The Avalanche were 9-0-1 before the All-Star break. They resume the regular season at home against the Tampa Bay Lighting on Thursday.
Kadri is fourth in the NHL and leads the Avalanche with 60 points (19 goals, 41 assists) in 41 games.
Kadri is one point off his NHL career high of 61 points (32 goals, 29 assists) which he scored with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 82 games in 2016-17.
“We just want to continue what we’re doing,” Kadri said. “It’s working, and we understand that we can improve as well. We understand that the second half is getting a bit tighter, heading into the playoffs. It was a good start and we’re hoping for an even better finish. “
The Avalanche are trying to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2000-01, when they beat the New Jersey Devils in seven games.
Colorado finished second to Central in 2019-20 and won the division in 2020-21 but was eliminated in the second round each season.
This season, the Avalanche are 4-7-2 when trailing after two periods, 7-3 in overtime and 3-1-0 in shootouts.
“For us, especially in the first half, I feel like there have been games when we go into the third period with several goals or one goal and we find ways to come back,” Makar said, who leads NHL defensemen with 18 goals and fourth with 44 points in 40 games this season.
“Even in the last few years I’ve been there, I feel like sometimes we give up a few leads and then win or we don’t come back in the third. Without a doubt, the resilience of our team this year is something that we will build on, with this depth, until the end.”