DENVER (AP)Cale Makar scored twice in a 3:22 span during the first period, Mikko Rantanen turned in a four-point performance and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 on Saturday night for their fourth straight win.
Nathan MacKinnon also scored, while Rantanen added an empty-net goal to go with three assists. Pavel Francouz stopped 24 shots for his first victory of the season.
The Big Three of MacKinnon, Rantanen and Makar are coming up big for the injury-riddled Avalanche.
”I don’t think it has to just be us,” Makar said. ”We obviously want to step up and make sure that we’re doing the things right to help our team win every single night.”
Makar’s early goal spurt staked Colorado to a 2-0 lead. On his first score, the dynamic defenseman sent a shot over the net that hit the glass and caromed back over the goal, where Antti Raanta’s left skate knocked it in. Makar didn’t even see it go in, he acknowledged.
On his second, Makar took a pass from Rantanen and sent a liner by Raanta.
”There are certain nights where he (Makar) finds a way to make a play at the right time and chip in for us,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said.
Makar reached the 50-goal mark in his 191st game. Since 1943-44, only three defensemen have attained that mark faster: Phil Housley (148 games), Ray Bourque (170) and Denis Potvin (185), according to NHL Stats.
Jordan Staal scored for the Hurricanes, while Raanta finished with 24 saves. Raanta turned in a nifty play when he skated way out of his net to prevent a breakaway attempt from Logan O’Connor.
Really, though, the game boiled down to special teams, where the Hurricanes were 0 for 5 on the power play.
”Tip your cap to them. They played well and we didn’t,” Staal said. ”We didn’t get to our game and we got hemmed in a little bit too much, too many penalties and the power play, it wasn’t good enough.”
The Avalanche and Hurricanes meet again Thursday in Carolina. The teams split the series last season, with the home team winning each contest.
THIS & THAT
Carolina D Calvin de Haan slammed hard into the boards on a big hit from Rantanen late in the first period. He later returned. … Rantanen has registered at least a point in five straight games.
MacKinnon scored only his fourth goal this season – and first since Oct. 22 – but is tied for first in the league with 19 assists.
”He’s an incredible player and obviously he brings it every single night so I have no issues with him not scoring many goals right now,” Makar said. ”He’s obviously making a lot of plays.”
Add rookie Shane Bowers to Colorado’ expanding injury list after he suffered an upper-body injury on the third shift of his NHL debut Thursday. Bowers will be sidelined approximately six weeks, coach Jared Bednar said.
The Avalanche are already missing forwards Gabriel Landeskog (knee), Valeri Nichushkin (ankle) and Darren Helm (lower body), along with defensemen Bowen Byram and Samuel Girard due to lower-body injuries. Another defenseman, Kurtis MacDermid, suffered a lower-body injury the first period against Carolina.
”In the room, doesn’t matter who’s in, who’s out, who we have in the lineup, just go try and execute and compete and get wins,” Avalanche forward J.T. Compher said.
Hurricanes: At Chicago on Monday night.
Avalanche: Finish a three-game homestand Monday against St. Louis.
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