Avalanche roll past Coyotes with 3-goal second period

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A Coyotes nemesis, an NHL All-Star and a player who is deserving of an All-Star appearance but is instead in the All-Star Last Men In fan voting scored goals for the Colorado Avalanche, who left no doubt one night after a close game against the Coyotes and rolled to a 5-0 win at Gila River Arena.

Arizona played the Central Division leaders to a 4-3 overtime shootout loss on Friday in Denver, but three goals in the second period put Saturday's game out of reach for the Coyotes. Mikko Rantanen scored twice, giving the top-line forward 12 goals and 25 points in 19 career games against the Coyotes.

Central Division All-Star captain Nathan MacKinnon and All-Star hopeful Nazem Kadri also scored for the Avalanche. Rantanen and Kadri combined for three goals in a span of 3 minutes, 41 seconds of the second period.

MacKinnon added a second goal with 20 seconds to play.

"It's just small details. They get some lucky bounces off their shots. They get rebounds and stuff, they're a really skilled team and they've got six All-Star forwards," Coyotes defenseman Victor Soderstrom said. "I think it's just bounces. They do the same thing every night and every team in the league knows it. You've just got to try to keep up with it and just be hard around the net, and I think we played hard around the net maybe half the game, and that wasn't good enough."

Kadri skated in his 700th career game one night after scoring the winner in the shootout against the Coyotes (8-24-4). Colorado improved to 8-1-1 against the Coyotes over the past two seasons combined.

"We played a pretty good game in there (Denver), and I think we poked the bear a little bit (Friday)," Coyotes assistant coach Cory Stillman said. Stillman and Phil Housley have been guiding the team with André Tourigny in the NHL's COVID-19 protocol.

The difference came down to the return of captain Gabriel Landeskog, Stillman said. Landeskog did not play for the Avalanche on Friday.

"It changes their lines, it probably puts guys in the positions they should be in," Stillman said. "Landeskog comes in and the top line scores four goals, so that's the difference."

Jan 15, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Coyotes left wing Lawson Crouse (67) and Colorado Avalanche center Tyson Jost (17) go for the puck during the second period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 15, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Coyotes left wing Lawson Crouse (67) and Colorado Avalanche center Tyson Jost (17) go for the puck during the second period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado goaltender Darcy Kuemper, traded away by the Coyotes last July for a 2022 first-round pick, young defenseman Conor Timmins and a 2024 third-round pick, came back for his first game in Glendale against his former team and stopped all 20 shots he faced.

Kuemper, for three full seasons and part of a fourth a Coyote, got a round of applause from Coyotes fans after a video tribute in the first period period. Then he recorded his first shutout of the season and 21st of his career.

"It was a fun night. It was a little bit more emotions at the start of the game than I thought being back here, just a lot of good memories and good relationships here. But the guys played great in front of me and, like I said, it was a fun night and fun to get the shutout," Kuemper said.

The Coyotes, as they were Friday, again were dominated in shots on goal. They couldn't solve Kuemper, and still do not have a winning streak at home this season.

"He makes the saves when he has to," Stillman said. "We had a bit of a push there to try to break his shutout and he made some timely saves."

Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka, coming off a 45-save, 2-1 win on Wednesday against Toronto in his most recent start, had 27 saves.

MacKinnon's goal gave the Avalanche a lead they never lost. The Avalanche star skated in on net during a power play and went backhand to get the puck past Vejmelka.

MacKinnon had seven shots on goal in Friday's meeting, but came away without any points.

Vejmelka provided a highlight for the Coyotes with a sprawling save on Landeskog in the second period.

'Bear' track

Still no Tourigny, so Stillman got a chance to take questions after the game. He mentioned the 14 turnovers the Coyotes had in the game, at least a couple that led to Avalanche goals.

Up next

The Coyotes play an afternoon game on Monday, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, against the Montreal Canadiens at Gila River Arena. It's a battle of the teams with the two worst records in the NHL, Montreal with the lowest winning percentage and the Coyotes second-to-lowest. Montreal has lost five straight games and has had five of its last seven games postponed, including Saturday's home game scheduled against New Jersey.

Get in touch with Jose Romero at Jose.Romero@gannett.com. Find him on Twitter at @RomeroJoseM.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Avalanche roll past Coyotes with 3-goal second period

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