MacKinnon propels Avalanche to 5-1 victory over Ducks
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist in his 700th NHL game and the Colorado Avalanche won their third straight game, beating the Anaheim Ducks 5-1 Monday night.
The two-point night continued what has been a great month for the All-Star center.
MacKinnon — who became the eighth player in Avalanche/Nordiques franchise history to appear in 700 games — is tied for second in the league with 24 points in March. He also has 10 goals, which are tied for third.
“The more important the game, the more he’s going to show up for his team. It’s just another level of determination,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said of MacKinnon. “It’s probably hard to maintain or stay up like through the course of 82 games, but when the games get big, he's the guy that is going to show up for you.”
Bowen Byram also had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche, who are one point behind Dallas for the Central Division lead. Jack Johnson, Valeri Nichushkin and Samuel Girard also scored for Colorado, and Cale Makar had two assists. Jonas Johansson stopped 29 shots.
Anaheim, which went 1-6-1 on its eight-game homestand, got its lone goal from Derek Grant. John Gibson made 39 saves. Trevor Zegras suffered a lower-body injury during the second period and did not return.
“I think everyone gets frustrated when you’re losing. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing a good team or not,” said Jakob Silfverberg, who had the assist on Grant's goal. “We knew we were going to have a tough game tonight, so we were just going to try to outwork them out there, but it was a tough game tonight and they are a good team.”
MacKinnon scored the go-ahead goal with 7.9 seconds remaining in the first period with a great individual effort. The center kept possession of the puck deep in the offensive zone, skated to the top of the left faceoff circle and put a wrist shot over Gibson's shoulder on his blocker side for his 32nd of the season to give Colorado a 2-1 lead.
“I was looking to pass there. There’s some time they kind of play passive a little bit in their defensive zone. We can’t force things," MacKinnon said. "Mikko (Rantanen) and Valeri were doing a great job screening and I managed to find the short side.”
The Ducks opened the scoring 12 minutes into the game when Grant took Silfverberg's pass and put it between Johansson's legs for his fifth of the season.
Three minutes later, Bryam found the net for the fourth time in the last nine games with a shot from the point just beyond the left faceoff circle that found its way through traffic.
Colorado put it out of reach with a pair of goals 96 seconds apart early in the second period. Johnson ended a 146-game goal drought with a snap shot from the point. Nichushkin followed at 3:46 with his 16th off a pass by MacKinnon to make it 4-1.
Girard gave the Avalanche a power-play goal for the 12th straight game four minutes into the third on a rebound in front of the net. The streak with the man advantage is the longest in the league this year and two off the franchise record, set in 1995-96.
BACK-TO-BACK WINS AGAIN
Colorado has swept fix of last eight sets of back-to-back games. It improved to 8-2-1 in the second game of the set.
Avalanche: Host Minnesota on Wednesday.
Ducks: Begin a three-game road trip against Seattle Thursday.
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