The Vegas Golden Knights came into this game with the most points in the Western Conference.
The way the Colorado Avalanche are playing, it might not stay that way for long.
Mikko Rantanen scored just 14 seconds into the game, and the Avalanche defense completely shut down the Golden Knights offense on the way to a commanding 3-0 Colorado victory. It was the sixth consecutive victory for the Avalanche, and their 14th in their last 18 games.
With the win, the Avalanche now move into sole possession of second place in the Central Division. They sit just two points back of Dallas, who lost in overtime earlier in the evening.
Rantanen scored two goals, while Nathan MacKinnon added an empty netter.
Alexandar Georgiev stopped all 31 shots sent his way for the shutout.
The Avalanche have scored early and often of late. On Monday, they managed to get on the board before fans were even in their seats.
Just 14 seconds into the game, Rantanen hit the back of the net, in a showcase of pure skill.
Adin Hill went to play the puck behind his own net, and attempted risky pass up the middle. Rantanen was ready, and smacked the puck out of mid-air. With no goaltender in net, he chipped the puck into the empty cage, giving the Avalanche an early one goal lead. It was the quickest goal of the season for the Avalanche, and the 16th time in the last 18 games that they’ve scored first.
Both teams finished with 11 shots in the first period, but only Rantanen’s shot found the back of the net.
The second period saw more action, but both goaltenders were on top of their game to keep the scoring to a minimum.
The Avalanche had a great 4-on-3 powerplay towards the end of the second period, but Hill made a number of great saves to keep it a one goal game.
It didn’t stay that way long.
Just a minute after coming out of the box, Rantanen hit the 40 goal mark for the first time in his career. He snuck behind the defense of the Golden Knights, and J.T. Compher hit him with a tremendous pass. Rantanen wired a one-timer over the glove of Hill for his second of the night, extending the Avalanche lead to two..
They carried that lead into the third period, thanks to 12 more saves from Georgiev in the second.
In the third period, the Avalanche continued to carry the play, and gave the Golden Knights nothing. Vegas got their only powerplay of the game halfway through the period, but nothing dangerous came from it. The Avalanche were in total control.
MacKinnon added an empty net goal after Artturi Lehkonen worked hard to get the puck free in the defensive zone, and the Avalanche secured a 3-0 victory over the top team in the Western Conference.
The Avalanche finish off this three game home stretch on Wednesday night, when they take on the New Jersey Devils. The game starts at 7 PM MST.