Mercer has goal, 3 assists as Devils beat Avalanche 7-5
DENVER (AP) — Dawson Mercer stayed hot with a goal and three assists, Tomas Tatar had a goal and two assists, and the New Jersey Devils beat the Colorado Avalanche 7-5 on Wednesday night.
Nico Hischier and Miles Wood each had a goal and an assist, and Nathan Bastian, Ondrej Palat and Dougie Hamilton also scored for New Jersey. Vitek Vanecek had 14 saves before being replaced early in the third period after giving up five goals. Akira Schmid came on and stopped all 12 shots he faced.
Mercer has scored a goal in seven straight games and has 10 overall in that span, helping the Devils go 5-2.
“Playing with Nico and (Tatar), we’ve been having a great stretch right now and we just want to make sure we keep this going,” Mercer said.
New Jersey forward Timo Meier, acquired from San Jose on Monday, was scratched.
Nathan MacKinnon had two goals to extend his points streak to nine games and Mikko Rantanen scored his 41st of the season for Colorado. Valeri Nichushkin and J.T. Compher also scored, and Artturi Lehkonen had two assists. Justus Annunen finished with 22 saves.
The Avalanche had their six-game winning streak snapped and failed to get a point for the first time in nine games.
Colorado completed a deal with Washington for center Lars Eller on Wednesday morning, and he landed in Denver in time to play. His first shift as an Avalanche came 25 seconds into the game and he was on the ice when Palat beat Annunen 42 seconds later to give the Devils a 1-0 lead.
“It is a special opportunity to be on a team being in a playoff spot and have the history here with what they did last year,” said Eller, who won a Stanley Cup with the Capitals in 2018. “Certainly can’t take it for granted. So I’m very privileged to be here.”
Bastian and Tatar scored 2:35 apart later in the first and MacKinnon’s goal at 19:46 cut the lead to 3-1.
The offenses dominated the second period, with Hamilton and Wood scoring 2:40 apart to make it 5-1. Colorado answered with goals by Rantanen, MacKinnon and Compher in a span of 2:04. For Rantanen, it gave him a goal in six straight games.
“Even when they scored the three I felt good about the way we’re playing,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “I just didn’t like a couple of mistakes.”
Mercer scored his 20th of the season late in the second and Nichushkin made it a one-goal game again 1:26 into the third. Schmid then came on for Vanecek.
Hischier’s empty-netter with 1:14 left capped the scoring. It gave the Tatar-Hirschier-Mercer line nine points on the night.
“We’re getting good bounces, our pucks are going in but I think our main goal is playing responsible,” Tatar said. “Obviously if you score to help the team that’s a bonus.”
MAKAR STILL OUT
Colorado D Cale Makar missed his fifth game in a row and eighth in the last 10 due to two separate concussions. Makar suffered the first one Feb. 7 at Pittsburgh, returned to play two games but suffered the second one at St. Louis on Feb. 18.
Compher notched his 200th career point with his goal. Not to be outdone, Lekhonen’s two assists also gave him 200 career points.
Devils: At Vegas on Friday night.
Colorado: At Dallas on Saturday.
AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://www.twitter.com/AP_Sports
Michael Kelly, The Associated Press