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Colorado Avalanche

Rantanen, MacKinnon Lead Avalanche to 6-2 Victory on Memorable Evening




When the Colorado Avalanche stopped trying to force the puck to Mikko Rantanen, the magical moment finally happened.

And they took off from there.

Rantanen scored his 50th goal of the year, and then added two more for his third hat trick of the season, as the Avalanche took down the Sharks by a score of 6-2. Nathan MacKinnon chipped in with four points of his own, as he continues what might be the most prolific scoring season in Avalanche history.

With the win, the Avalanche jump back into first place in the Central Division. They have the same amount of points as Dallas, but with a game in hand, the tiebreaker is points percentage. It’ll be a battle until the end of the regular season for that top spot in the division.

First Period

If not for the ending of the period, the first could have gone down as one of the least memorable periods of the season for the Avalanche. Through 15 minutes, the two teams had combined for just seven shots on goal.

At 15:43 of the period, the Sharks capitalized on some miscommunication by the Avalanche.

After J.T. Compher won the face-off, Erik Johnson left the puck right at his feet for Bowen Byram, but the young defenseman was beat to the puck by Jacob Peterson. The initial shot by Kevin Labanc was stopped, but Alexandar Georgiev left a big rebound out front. Erik Karlsson, the likely Norris Trophy winner this season, picked up the rebound and put it through Georgiev’s legs, giving the Sharks the 1-0 lead.

But 62 seconds later, Mikko Rantanen broke the 50 goal barrier, tying the game up.

A fantastic rush up the ice by Nathan MacKinnon saw him sprint past the defense and put a shot on Kahkonen. The goaltender stopped the first shot, but there was a rebound there for the taking. Rantanen pounced on it, and put it through Kahkonen’s legs, tying the game up and giving him 50 goals on the year. Sam Girard made sure to pick up the puck after the big moment, and you could see the exhilaration on the faces of all of Rantanen’s teammates.

It also proved to be an important goal, giving the Avalanche some momentum before the period ended.

Second Period

With the weight of the world lifted off his shoulders, Rantanen was ready to add to that goal total. That’s exactly what he did.

Just 2:32 into the period, Evan Rodrigues took the puck away from Thrun behind the net. He walked in front of Kahkonen with all the time in the world, but dropped it off to Rantanen. With Kahkonen fooled by Rodrigues’ play, Rantanen moved the puck to his backhand and deposited it into the back of the net, giving the Avalanche the 2-1 lead.

Five minutes later, MacKinnon got in on the goal scoring. A nice face-off win by Rantanen went to MacKinnon, who played give and go with Girard at the point. The star center just let a quick shot go, which beat Kahkonen through a screen to give the Avalanche the two goal lead.

45 seconds later, the hat trick was complete.

More domination by the Avalanche led to Rantanen picking up his third goal of the evening. After getting the puck poked off his stick and out of the zone, he worked his way back into the zone, sending it to Toews on the wing. The defender dropped the puck back to MacKinnon, who hit a wide-open Rantanen on the back-door for the hat trick goal, his 52nd on the year.

The Sharks got one back 35 seconds later, as Erik Karlsson tricked everyone on the Avalanche, and hit Lorentz for an easy goal to make it 4-2. That momentum didn’t last, though, as an unlikely source for the Avalanche gave them their three goal lead back.

Ben Meyers, who entered the game with just one goal in 34 games, finally broke through. On his second mini-breakaway of the evening, he grabbed the puck out of the air, put it down, and sent a quick shot between James Reimer’s legs to make it 5-2. The young forward was due for a goal, and as it turns out, it wouldn’t be his last goal of the night.

Third Period

With all of the excitement of the second period, the Avalanche just needed to get through the final period to walk out of the rink with a win. They did that and added to their goal total.

After some nice defensive work by Matt Nieto, Meyers and Alex Newhook entered the zone on a two-on-two. Meyers dropped it to Newhook, and cut directly to the net. Newhook hit him with a pass, which directed off Meyers skate and into the back of the net for his second of the night.

Newhook himself was looking to break a long slump late in the period, but was robbed by the glove of Reimer. The buzzer eventually sounded, giving the Avalanche their third straight victory by a score of 6-2.

With the win, they move back into first in the Central by virtue of the tiebreaker of points percentage. They now head to Los Angeles to take on a team they’ve struggled against this season, the Kings. That game will take place on Saturday, and starts at 8:30 PM MST.

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