DENVER (AP) — Mikko Rantanen, Artturi Lehkonen and Alex Newhook each scored twice, Pavel Francouz made 29 saves for his first shutout of the season and the Colorado Avalanche routed the Ottawa Senators 7-0 on Saturday night.
Rantanen scored his 28th and 29th goals to break Joe Sakic’s 27-year-old team record for goals at the halfway point of the regular season.
“He wants to make an impact every night and has made an impact on basically every night,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said about Rantanen.
“He’s just trying to push himself to another level, the next level. He knows our team needs it. I just see a highly determined player in all areas of his game.”
Colorado had lost seven of eight games and was two days removed from a loss to the last-place Chicago Blackhawks. The seven goals are the most the Avalanche have scored this season.
“We knew we weren’t playing the hockey we want lately,” Francouz said. “It was kind of getting in our heads and that’s always challenging. I think we kind of forgot that hockey is fun, too. Today, we just played our hockey. We didn’t take our foot off the gas the whole time.”
Brad Hunt also scored for Colorado.
Rantanen started the scoring 5:45 into the game. It served as a catalyst for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who entered the matchup 23rd in the NHL in goals per game. Barely two minutes after Rantanen scored, Newhook added a goal of his own, firing a slap shot over goalie Anton Forsberg’s shoulder.
With a third-period goal, Lehkonen had his first multi-goal game since Colorado’s season opener. Nathan MacKinnon had two assists, giving him four in two games.
“We’ve had some good stretches every now and then, but we have to play a full 60 minutes,” Rantanen said. “That’s been the issue lately. We have to focus on that.”
The seven goals allowed were a career worst for Forsberg. He stopped 26 shots.
“Hopefully we can break out of it a little bit and gain a little confidence as individuals and as a team after an outing like that,” Bednar said. “That’s two of our best outings all year in the last four games. I’d rather think of it that way. We can’t go and win eight games in a row tonight. We have to figure out what it is that makes us tick. I think we did that tonight.”
Avalanche C Darren Helm was a scratch after suffering a lower-body injury in a 3-2 loss Thursday night at Chicago. In his place, Colorado called up LW Sampo Ranta, marking Ranta’s sixth stint with the team this season. … Avalanche C Denis Malgin was placed on injured reserve, retroactive to Jan. 5. Malgin hadn’t played in Colorado’s previous three games entering Saturday after sustaining an upper-body injury … Senators LW Austin Watson and Avalanche D Andreas Englund earned five-minute major penalties for fighting in the second period.
Avalanche: Host Detroit on Monday.
Senators: At St. Louis on Monday night.
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Craig Meyer, The Associated Press