Saad scores twice, Avalanche rout Sharks 7-3

NHL

DENVER (AP)Brandon Saad scored twice, one in a three-goal flurry at the end of the first period, and the Colorado Avalanche beat the San Jose Sharks 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Mikko Rantanen scored a goal for the sixth straight game to tie an Avalanche record, and Valeri Nichushkin added a short-handed goal and an assist in the rout.

Ryan Donato and Logan Couture had a goal and an assist each for the Sharks.

San Jose took a 1-0 lead on Donato’s third goal of the season at 10:39 of the first before Colorado came storming back. Joonas Donskoi tied it at 16:15, and 46 seconds later Saad gave the Avalanche a 2-1 lead.

”I thought all four lines were ready to skate, were tenacious on pucks,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. ”I thought we were stronger on pucks in the offensive zone and moving our feet whenever we were touching it.”

Rantanen scored on the power play with 39 seconds left in the period, his sixth of the season.

Rantanen became the fifth Colorado player to have a goal in six consecutive games since the franchise moved to Denver in 1995. Joe Sakic accomplished the feat three times – two of those were seven-game streaks – and Peter Forsberg did it twice. Milan Hejduk scored in seven straight games and Nathan MacKinnon scored in six in a row in October 2018.

”I’m feeling healthy and I’m feeling good on the ice,” Rantanen said. ”Playing with (Gabriel Landeskog) and Nate, there’s less pressure for me and I just go out and play and work as hard as I can to do the right things. It’s been nice to get rewarded. It’s been good for now and I just have to keep it going.”

Nichushkin’s goal came 1:32 into the second period and Samuel Girard made it 5-1 at 5:48 to chase goalie Martin Jones, who made 14 saves before Devan Dubnyk took over in net. Dubnyk stopped 21 shots.

”We turn one over, they go down and it’s in the back of the net,” San Jose coach Bob Boughner said. ”That’s when the game opened up and we paid the price for it. You can’t open up against these guys and you can’t mismanage pucks and that’s what we did. It’s the toughest game we played so far.”

Noah Gregor got one back for San Jose, but Devon Toews and Saad scored 1:31 apart late in the second to give the Avalanche a 7-2 lead.

”Today was a learning experience,” Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson said. ”I don’t think anybody on our team is happy with their game after today.”

Colorado goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who had 27 saves, faced just 13 shots through the first two periods but made a big play soon after Gregor’s goal. After the Sharks killed off a penalty, Matt Nieto came out of the box with the puck ahead of him. Grubauer skated out to the left circle and made a diving stop to clear the puck out of the zone.

Couture tipped in his third goal of the season at 12:43 of the third.

Andre Burakovsky and Cale Makar had two assists apiece for Colorado.

CLIMBING THE RANKS

Sharks LW Patrick Marleau played in his 1,730th career game, fifth-most in NHL history and one behind Ron Francis. Marleau will tie Jaromir Jagr for third when he reaches 1,733.

WELCOME BACK, WELCOME ABOARD

Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson returned to the lineup after missing three games and his defensive partner, Ryan Graves, was back after being scratched Sunday in Anaheim.

Colorado forward Kiefer Sherwood, signed as a free agent on Oct. 9, had an assist in his Avalanche debut. Sherwood played 60 games with the Ducks over two seasons. He was in the lineup for Matt Calvert, who is out with an upper-body injury.

UP NEXT

The teams play the second of two games in Denver on Thursday night.

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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