Avalanche Power Play Sets Tone Again in 3-2 Victory Over Kings

WARNING: Take penalties against the Colorado Avalanche at your own peril.

Power-play goals lifted the Avalanche again, as two tallies with a man advantage carried them to a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. Both Devon Toews and Mikko Rantanen scored power-play goals for the second game in a row, and Nathan MacKinnon had two assists in the win to give him 500 career points.

Colorado scored five power-play goals in its last game, an 8-0 thumping of the St. Louis Blues, and are now a sizzling 8-for-17 (47.1 percent) with the man advantage on the year.

Nathan MacKinnon Colorado Avalanche
Nathan MacKinnon scored his 500th career point on Tuesday. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Avalanche were 2-for-6 on the power-play against Los Angeles, and those were the first goals the Kings’ penalty kill had allowed all season. Los Angeles entered the game a perfect 11-for-11 on the penalty kill through its first two games of the season.

A pre-game trade and some knocks in practice caused a little bit of shake-up in the forward lines and defensive pairings, but it didn’t slow the Avs down. Colorado continued to get a little bit from everybody, as eight different players recorded a point on the way to their first road victory of the year in their first away game of the campaign.

The road continued to be a comfy place for the Avalanche. Colorado led 3-0 after two periods, and held on for the win. Over the past two seasons away from Denver, the team was a combined 32-1-3 when leading after two periods. They’re now 1-0 in that metric this season, and they did it by having the Kings scrambling in the second period.

Familiar Faces Strike Again

Los Angeles took three penalties in the second, and Colorado made them pay twice. Holding a 1-0 lead after the first period behind Brandon Saad’s first goal with Colorado, Toews was the first to score on the power play.

Samuel Girard dropped a pass back to Toews, who buried a slapshot from the point. It was a mirror image of Toews’ power-play goal against the Blues just four days ago.

This is one of the reasons why Toews was brought to Colorado. A stellar two-way player, he gives the Avalanche yet another viable offensive threat out there, particularly on the power play when Cale Makar isn’t on the ice.

The assist gave Girard four on the season, tying him with MacKinnon for the team lead, and putting both amongst the league leaders in that category. Only Jack Eichel, Taylor Hall (both of the Buffalo Sabres) and Edmonton Oilers’ standout Leon Draisaitl have more.

Mikko Rantanen Colorado Avalanche
Colorado forward Mikko Rantanen has recorded a power-play goal in each the last two games. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Rantanen’s power-play goal came less than two minutes after Toews’ tally, making it 3-0 on a top-shelf one-timer courtesy of MacKinnon. That assist was MacKinnon’s 500th career point in his 528th game.

MacKinnon was the first-overall pick in the 2013 Draft, and is the first player in that class to hit the 500-point milestone. Calgary Flames star Sean Monahan, who was taken sixth overall, is the closest to MacKinnon with 415 career points.

This is business as usual for Rantanen on the power play. Since becoming a regular on the top unit in 2017-18, Rantanen has 38 power-play goals and 43 goals at even strength.

Goaltender Philipp Grubauer was sharp through the first two periods, stopping all 17 shots he faced. But Andreas Athanasiou’s snipe over Grubauer’s right shoulder almost eight minutes into the third ended the Colorado goaltender’s shutout streak at 113:28. Adrian Kempe’s power-play goal for Los Angeles with 5:38 to go closed the gap to 3-2, but Colorado buckled down for the win.

Just hours before the game, the deal that sent defenseman Ian Cole to the Minnesota Wild for defenseman Greg Pateryn put Dennis Gilbert in the lineup for the first time this season, and Erik Johnson also made his season debut after missing the first two games in quarantine due to COVID-19. Andre Burakovsky – who had two power-play goals of his own through the first two games – was also scratched, and is listed day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

Colorado’s three goals on Tuesday match the total the Avalanche scored in three games against the Kings last season. The teams will square off again on Thursday in Los Angeles before Colorado faces the Anaheim Ducks twice this weekend.

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