The first two periods were electric, but the third period was not. Fortunately for the Colorado Avalanche, the power surge of the first 40 minutes was just enough.
Colorado got two goals from Mikko Rantanen — giving him 300 points for his career — a goal and an assist from Nathan MacKinnon and a pair of assists from Cale Makar to hang on for a 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Monday. It was the eighth win in the last nine games for Colorado.
Arizona flipped the script on the Avalanche, outshooting Colorado 37-20 in the loss. It was just the fifth time all season the Avalanche had been outshot, and first since March 27 against the Vegas Golden Knights. The 20 shots on goal were also a season low for the team.
Here are three takeaways from Monday’s victory:
MacKinnon Inferno Stays Hot
The top line for the Avalanche has been rocking since the start of March, and MacKinnon is making sure the party doesn’t stop in April. The Colorado superstar notched a goal and an assist on Monday, extending his point streak to 10 games in the process. He’s not just getting a point here and a point there, either. Over those 10 games, MacKinnon has seven goals and 10 assists — seven of those have been multi-point games.
The streak started when he was held off the scoresheet in a 5-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on March 25 — that game snapped a seven-game point streak for MacKinnon. He has been held without a point just twice since Feb. 24. That’s a point for MacKinnon in 21 of his last 23 games.
His goal on Monday was a rocket one-timer that came on the power play, taking a feed from Makar to put the Avalanche up 2-0 midway through the second. Nine minutes later, he assisted on Rantanen’s 24th goal of the season. Rantanen added an empty-netter late in the third for his 300th career point.
Rantanen’s goal moved him into second place in the race for the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, passing Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. Toronto Maple Leafs standout Auston Matthews leads the way with 32 goals.
Grubauer Shines After Rest
Philipp Grubauer just needed a break. The Avalanche goaltender leads the NHL in games played, but was a spectator for Colorado’s last two games, both against the Anaheim Ducks.
He returned to his sharp form from earlier in the season, stopping 35 shots in the victory. He was one save short of his season high of 36, set all the way back on Jan. 22 in a 3-2 overtime win over Anaheim. Both goals on Monday came in the third period, with Michael Bunting and Johan Larsson scoring just 2:34 apart midway through the final stanza. However, Grubauer locked things down, earning his 25th win of the season. That number is tied for the most in the NHL with Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Grubauer’s previous two games before the break were nothing to write home about, giving up 11 goals in his previous two games, both against the Minnesota Wild.
Jonas Johansson stepped in to give Grubauer a breather, starting both games in Anaheim last weekend. Colorado won both of those games, as Johansson scored his first shutout of his career in Friday’s 2-0 win, and he allowed just one goal on Sunday in a 4-1 victory over the Ducks.
The club added even more depth by acquiring Devan Dubnyk from the San Jose Sharks just before the trade deadline, but Grubauer is clearly the team’s top goaltender. Along with the wins, he also is tied for the lead in shutouts with five, and is in the top three in goals-against average.
Saad Gets Much Needed Spark
Brandon Saad got the scoring started midway through the first period, and nobody needed a goal more than the veteran winger.
Saad was bumped down to the third line a couple of games ago, swapping spots with Valeri Nichushkin. The move was a result of a rotten stretch for Saad. Entering Monday’s contest, he had just two points — both goals — over the previous 12 games. Those goals were scored just three days apart, meaning a lot of zeroes on the score sheet since March 20.
But the goal was Saad’s 13th on the season, which is fifth on the team. It came midway through the first period after some good work by Samuel Girard after Tyson Jost won a faceoff in the left circle. It was the only goal of the first period.
Saad scoring has been a good indication of Avalanche success this season. He has 22 points on the season, and 20 of them have come in Avalanche victories. The two points — both goals — that have come in losses were both overtime losses. The Avalanche are now 12-0-2 in games he records a point this season.
Colorado travels to take on the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday, before returning home to face the Los Angeles Kings on Friday.
Lifelong storyteller and experienced hockey reporter that has covered everything from major juniors to the NHL. Worked for various newspapers across Minnesota and North Dakota, and now covering the Colorado Avalanche for THW.