DENVER (AP)Nathan MacKinnon scored two goals and Brandon Saad added another to lead the surging Colorado Avalanche to a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Friday night.
Jonas Johansson had 25 saves for his first win for Colorado in his second start since coming over from Buffalo in a trade on March 20. Gabriel Landeskog assisted on both of MacKinnon’s goals for the Avalanche, who have gone 11-0-2 in their last 13 games to take over first place in the West Division.
”Great feeling, big points for us and, personally, it was really fun to get the first one in the Avs jersey,” Johansson said.
The Blues got goals from Mike Hoffman and David Perron and 36 saves from Jordan Binnington, but lost their fifth straight game (0-4-1).
”It’s a pretty good game, it’s a close game, we hit three posts tonight, I think,” St. Louis coach Craig Berube said. ”We did a lot of good things but in the end what matters is the outcome and we’re on the wrong side of it.”
Saad and Hoffman traded goals 26 seconds apart in the first before MacKinnon put Colorado ahead. He had a power-play goal at 14:43 of the first and got his 12th of the season with a burst of speed down the right side that he finished with a shot between Binnington’s legs at 13:11 of the second.
The Blues had several chances, including a breakaway by Hoffman in the first period that Johansson stopped with a pad save.
”After he gave up that goal on his first shot he stops a breakaway where we have a big breakdown,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. ”He made numerous real good saves tonight to get us the victory, so I’m happy for him and our team will gain confidence in him as he continues to play.”
Perron pulled St. Louis to 3-2 with a power-play goal at 17:16 of the second.
The Blues got another power play late in the third period but couldn’t cash in.
The Blues had an extra skater on in the final two minutes but Perron took a penalty when, after breaking his stick, he dove onto the ice to keep the puck in and Avalanche center Nazem Kadri tripped over his legs.
The call came soon after Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen was called for a cross check.
”It’s terrible. I can’t believe it,” Perron said. ”You’re allowed to play the puck. I break my stick, I go in, I get the puck to keep it in zone because we have no goalie and it’s a makeup call for the one right before. That shouldn’t be in our game. It’s absolutely embarrassing. It’s frustrating. It kills our game right there. Those points are big for us. They’re big games, we’re playing our lives right now.”
FINED AND DANDY
MacKinnon flashed some different skills in Wednesday night’s win over Arizona. In the third period he got into a scuffle with Conor Garland and Garland’s helmet came off. MacKinnon tossed it underhand at Garland and the two kept scrapping.
Nothing was damaged except MacKinnon’s wallet. The NHL fined him $5,000 for his actions.
Colorado forward Valeri Nichushkin was a late scratch due to an upper-body injury. Nichushkin was active on the lineup sheet before the game but was pulled before the puck dropped.
St. Louis center Ivan Barbashev returned to action after missing 18 games with a left ankle injury.
Blues center Robbie Thomas left the game in the first period when a teammate’s dump-in attempt hit him on the right side of his head. He returned later in the game.
The same two teams play in Denver again Saturday night.