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Rantanen Leads Avalanche To Seventh Straight Victory With Hat Trick



Avalanche Rantanen nichushkin

If the Colorado Avalanche have learned how to win on the road, the rest of the NHL is in real trouble.

Mikko Rantanen picked up his seventh career hat trick on Tuesday night, leading the Avalanche to their seventh straight win, as they beat the Blues by a score of 4-3. The victory caps off a perfect road trip for Colorado, their first since the opening trip of the season back in October. Rantanen scored in each period, with his game-winning goal coming early in the third to break the tie. Justus Annunen picked up his fourth consecutive victory, stopping 29 of 32 St. Louis shots.

Colorado’s other goal came off the stick of Casey Mittelstadt, who continues to look like the second line center the Avalanche so desperately needed.

First Period

You can’t stop Nathan MacKinnon, you can only hope to contain him, and on the opening goal of the game, Justin Faulk found that out.

The entire play started in the defensive zone, with Devon Toews locking down Robert Thomas along the wall, creating a turnover for the Avalanche. Mikko Rantanen sent a pass to the left side of the ice, where MacKinnon gathered the puck. Faulk tried to take him out, but MacKinnon just powered through him, entering the offensive zone with possession. He sent a backhand pass to Rantanen in the high slot, and Rantanen sent a shot against the grain past Binnington’s glove, making it 1-0.

Just a few minutes later, the Blues were able to tie the game up after an extended shift in Colorado’s zone, caused by a few turnovers. It all started with Toews’ pass getting intercepted while trying to exit the zone. Later in the shift, Duhaime had a chance to clear, but couldn’t get it out along the boards. Nathan Walker, who came onto the ice fresh, was left all alone at the left circle, and beat Justus Annunen with a shot through a screen, tying the game up.

Rantanen hit a post later in the first, but neither team was able to find the net the rest of the period.

Second Period

St. Louis came out buzzing, and took advantage of a size mismatch in front of the net four minutes into the second.

A point shot from the Blues bounced around a bit after hitting Annunen, and came to Toropchenko in front of the net. His initial rebound shot was stopped, but it bounced off Toropchenko’s leg and into the back of the net, as the smaller Zach Parise couldn’t quite contain the massive Russian.

Two minutes later, the Avalanche tied it up off a designed face-off play. Casey Mittelstadt won the draw back to Sam Girard, who carried the puck along the boards. After getting below the blueline, Girard sent it right back out to Mittelstadt in the slot, who corralled it and fired the puck over Binnington’s glove, tying the game at two. With the goal, Mittelstadt now has points in his last four games with the Avalanche.

The chaos of the period continued, as the Avalanche tried to take advantage off another set face-off play. This time, the Blues were ready, as Neighbours read Rantanen’s pass, creating a two-on-one the other way. Eventually, Neighbours was able to sneak a pass past Cale Makar to Schenn, who one-timed the puck past Annunen.

Colorado killed off a Blues powerplay, then were able to get one of their own late in the period. It didn’t take them long to take advantage.

With a slightly different setup, Jonathan Drouin gathered the puck at the right circle. He sent shot/pass to Rantanen in the slot, who re-directed it past Binnington, tying the game at three heading into the intermission.

Third Period

That turnover by Rantanen in the second period? Yeah, I don’t know if anyone cares about that anymore.

Just four minutes into the period, the giant Finn completed the Hat Trick, as Nichushkin’s back pressure forced a Blues turnover. Nichushkin fed Rantanen for a one-timer, which sailed past Binnington to give the Avalanche the lead. Rantanen now has six goals in his last four games, and 14 points over his last six games.

Colorado nearly extended their lead on a late powerplay, but Drouin’s tight-angle shot hit the post, keeping the score 4-3.

The Blues did push towards the end of the game, but most of their shots came from the outside. Annunen held strong in net, stopping all nine St. Louis shots in the third period, and the Avalanche closed out the game for their seventh straight victory.

Colorado will now head home for a nice little five game homestand. Their next game is on Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. That game starts at 7 PM MST.

Colorado's premier coverage of the Avalanche from professional hockey people. Evan Rawal, Editor-in-Chief. Part of the National Hockey Now family.

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