Makar, MacKinnon lead Avalanche to 3-1 win over Coyotes
DENVER (AP) — Cale Makar had a goal and two assists in his return to the lineup, Nathan MacKinnon also had a goal and two assists, and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Arizona Coyotes 3-1 on Friday night.
J.T. Compher scored a goal, Valeri Nichushkin added two assists and Alexandar Georgiev stopped 17 shots for Colorado. The Avalanche are in third place in the Central Division with 90 points — two behind first-place Dallas and one behind Minnesota. Colorado has played one fewer game than the Stars and Wild.
Clayton Keller scored and Karel Vejmelka had 28 saves for Arizona, which has dropped two in a row.
"You can say that the mistakes we made were fatigue," Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. “It’s a good learning curve for us. It’s a good learning process. Everybody in the league has had a tough stretch and you need to maintain your performance.”
Makar missed the last two games with a lower-body injury but was active from the start Friday night. He fed MacKinnon for a power-play goal at 12:52 of the first period, his 31st goal of the season, to put the Avalanche ahead 1-0.
MacKinnon extended his home point streak to 19 games, and he has at least one point in his last 11 games. He has 93 points in 60 games and has 11 games to reach 100 points for the first time in his career.
"Nate finds a way to become more productive later in the year when when the game has mattered," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “That’s just his will and want and desire to be successful, mixed with his ability and the drive he has.”
Keller continued his hot stretch with his 35th goal to tie it with 1:03 left in the first period. He now has an 11-game point streak and has eight goals in the last seven games.
Makar nearly scored in the second period but his shot rang off the crossbar and flew 20 rows into the stands. Minutes later, Vejmelka made a sprawling pad save on Makar’s wraparound attempt to keep it tied.
“I was just trying to get pucks to the net,” Makar said. “I feel like we were struggling with doing that all night, especially on the power play.”
Makar’s 17th of the season made it 2-1 at 6:41 of the third, and Compher knocked in Makar’s rebound at 11:17 to give the Avalanche a two-goal lead.
The goal was initially credited to Mikko Rantanen, which would have been his 48th, but it was changed to Makar.
“I originally thought was my goal, and then I thought he tipped it so I figured he had it,” Makar said. “I was trying to look for him all night.”
NOTES: Avalanche D Erik Johnson was back in the lineup for the first time since suffering a broken ankle Feb. 11 at Florida. He missed 19 games. ... Arizona LW Brett Ritchie was back in the lineup after missing Wednesday’s overtime loss at Edmonton. ... Colorado C Evan Rodgrigues remained in the concussion protocol and missed his second game in a row.
Coyotes: Host Colorado on Sunday in the opener of a four-game homestand.
Avalanche: At Arizona on Sunday to open a two-game trip.
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Michael Kelly, The Associated Press