Rantanen scores twice, Avalanche cool off Golden Knights 3-0

DENVER (AP) — Mikko Rantanen scored twice, including 14 seconds into the game, and Alexandar Georgiev stopped 31 shots to help the Colorado Avalanche beat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-0 on Monday night for their sixth straight win.

Rantanen reached the 40-goal mark in a season for the first time in his career. His quick score tied for the seventh-fastest goal to start a game in Avalanche history.

Nathan MacKinnon added an empty-net goal with a shot from his own end with 3:27 remaining. He extended his points streak to eight straight games.

The Avalanche finished February with a 7-1-2 record, making this the 26th month in a row the team has gone .500 or better. It matches the franchise record set from March 1994 to February 1998.

Georgiev posted his third shutout of the season and first since Dec. 19 against the New York Islanders.

Ivan Barbashev made his Vegas debut after being acquired as part of a deal with St. Louis on Sunday. He began on a line with Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault.

Adin Hill had 31 saves for the Golden Knights, who lost in regulation for the first time since Jan. 27. They're now 6-1-3 over their last 10 games.

Rantanen’s 40th goal of the season came on a liner in the second period off a cross-ice pass from J.T. Compher. By reaching 40 goals in 58 games, Rantanen became the fastest Colorado player to hit the mark since the franchise moved to Denver in 1995-96. He broke the mark held by Joe Sakic, who reached 40 goals in his 65th game in ’95-96.

Rantanen got things rolling before some fans were even settled into their seats. He capitalized on a miscue from Hill, who tried to fling the puck deep from behind the net. Rantanen batted it down and lined it in. He's scored in five straight games.


Defenseman Jack Johnson rocketed up the standings in being dealt from a struggling Chicago team to the contending Avalanche on Sunday. Johnson helped the Avalanche to a Stanley Cup championship last season.

“I’m just trying to be a piece again, like last year — help out as much as I can,” Johnson said.


Avalanche GM Chris MacFarland didn’t divulge his level of concern for the return of captain Gabriel Landeskog, who’s been sidelined all season with a knee injury.

“He’s doing everything he can to get back,” MacFarland said.


Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (head) skated Monday with the team in a red noncontact sweater. ... D Kurtis MacDermid remains in concussion protocol. ... Vegas forward Phil Kessel was called for an illegal check to the head of Colorado's Andrew Cogliano in the second period. ... Colorado coach Jared Bednar turns 51 on Tuesday.


Golden Knights: Start a three-game homestand Wednesday against Carolina.

Avalanche: Host New Jersey on Wednesday night.


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Pat Graham, The Associated Press