Dynamic defenseman Makar scores twice, Avs beat 'Canes 4-1

DENVER (AP) — Cale Makar scored twice in a 3:22 span during the first period, Mikko Rantanen recorded a four-point night and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 on Saturday night for their fourth straight win.

Nathan MacKinnon also scored, while Rantanen added an empty-net goal to go with three assists. Pavel Francouz stopped 24 shots for his first victory of the season.

Makar's goal spurt staked Colorado to a 2-0 lead. On his first score, the dynamic defenseman sent a shot over the net that hit the glass and caromed back over the goal, where Antti Raanta’s left skate knocked it in. On his second, Makar took a pass from Rantanen and sent a liner by Raanta.

Makar reached the 50-goal mark in his 191st game. Since 1943-44, only three defensemen have attained that mark faster: Phil Housley (148 games), Ray Bourque (170) and Denis Potvin (185), according to NHL Stats.

Jordan Staal scored for the Hurricanes, while Raanta finished with 24 saves.

Raanta turned in a nifty play when he skated way out of his net to prevent a breakaway attempt from Logan O’Connor.

The Avalanche and Hurricanes meet again Thursday in Carolina. The teams split the series last season, with the home team winning each contest.

THIS & THAT

Carolina D Calvin de Haan slammed hard into the boards on a big hit late in the first period. He later returned. ... Rantanen has registered at least a point in five straight games. ... It was MacKinnon's first goal since Oct. 22.

INJURY BUG

Add rookie Shane Bowers to Colorado’ expanding injury list after he suffered an upper-body injury on the third shift of his NHL debut Thursday. Bowers will be sidelined approximately six weeks, coach Jared Bednar said.

The Avalanche are already missing forwards Gabriel Landeskog (knee), Valeri Nichushkin (ankle) and Darren Helm (lower body), along with defensemen Bowen Byram and Samuel Girard due to lower-body injuries. Another defenseman, Kurtis MacDermid, suffered a lower-body injury the first period against Carolina.

“In the room, doesn’t matter who’s in, who’s out, who we have in the lineup, just go try and execute and compete and get wins," Avalanche forward J.T. Compher said.

UP NEXT

Hurricanes: At Chicago on Monday night.

Avalanche: Finish a three-game homestand Monday against St. Louis.

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Pat Graham, The Associated Press