MacKinnon, Rantanen lead Avalanche to 5-2 win over Stars
DENVER (AP) — Nathan MacKinnon scored twice, Mikko Rantanen had a goal and three assists, and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Dallas Stars 5-2 on Saturday night.
Logan O'Connor and Valeri Nichushkin also scored to help the Avalanche win for the 10th time in their last 12 games. Alexandar Georgiev stopped 26 shots.
“We’ve been a resilient group,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “You’re not going to win every game, but I do feel like your response after a loss is huge. When you come up to a big game, sometimes you’ve going to succeed, sometimes you’re going to fail and for different reasons.
"The main thing we like to rely on with our group is that we’re going to be there to compete and work hard and try to do the right things. I felt like our guys checked all those boxes tonight.”
Colorado pulled into a tie with Dallas for second place in the Central Division, one point behind first-place Minnesota.
Tyler Seguin and Joe Pavelski scored for the Stars, and Jason Robertson had two assists. Jake Oettinger finished with 27 saves.
“Considering the circumstances, we came out ready to play,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “We knew what was at stake. We played well. It was a close game that could have gone either way. They found a way to capitalize. The errors we made — turning a puck over, taking a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty — that’s a team that makes you pay for that.”
MacKinnon scored the first goal of the night, with 11:06 remaining in the first period, and his power-play goal with 12 seconds remaining in the second period pushed his team’s advantage back to two. Colorado has scored at least one power-play goal in 13 of its past 14 games.
MacKinnon now has 34 goals, increasing his team-leading point total to 97. It was the star center’s 32nd multi-point game of the season, giving him the most of any Avalanche player since Joe Sakic in 2000-01.
“It gets tougher and tougher to produce when the checking game and the commitment level of every team you’re playing goes up,” Bednar said. “Some guys will dry up offensively. Well, Nate’s the exact opposite. The tougher it gets, the more he finds ways to be a big difference-maker.”
Wyatt Johnston appeared to trim the Avalanche lead to 3-2 with 10:51 remaining in the third period, but his goal was overturned for goaltender interference after a challenge from Bednar.
“You’d like to see it count,” Pavelski said. “We still had more than enough time when that happened. We got a little jolt of energy there and got going again. It would have been fun to be in that situation down by a goal.”
Rantanen’s goal, an empty-netter, was his 49th of the season, the third-most of all NHL players.
“We talked about the start and bouncing on them right away and putting their defense under pressure and just making them work,” Rantanen said. “It’s not easy if you come in at two or three in the morning to play the next day. We’ve been there.”
NOTES: Colorado recalled C Ben Meyers from its AHL affiliate. Meyers has one goal in 33 games with the Avalanche this season. ... Colorado D Jack Johnson appeared in his 1,100th career game, becoming the 14th U.S.-born defenseman in NHL history to reach that mark. ... Dallas loaned G Scott Wedgewood to the franchise’s AHL affiliate on a conditioning assignment.
Stars: Host Nashville on Monday night.
Avalanche: At San Jose on Tuesday night.
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Craig Meyer, The Associated Press