MacKinnon, Rantanen help Avs rally for 6-3 win over Bruins
DENVER (AP) — Mikko Rantanen got an assist for setting up the go-ahead goal. Nathan MacKinnon wanted to give him something more — full credit.
“All Mikko there,” he said.
MacKinnon scored the tiebreaking goal with 10:58 remaining on a nifty pass from Rantanen, and the Colorado Avalanche rallied past the Boston Bruins 6-3 on Wednesday night in a showdown between two of the top scoring lines in the league.
Semyon Varlamov made 20 saves and the Avalanche scored four times in the third period after trailing by two in the second.
“It’s always good to beat a good team like them,” MacKinnon said.
This is no line, either: Colorado took momentary bragging rights in boasting the most explosive unit in the NHL.
The Avs’ top line of Gabriel Landeskog (goal), MacKinnon (goal and an assist) and Rantanen (goal and two assists) produced six points to give them a league-leading 75 for the season.
The squad outperformed the unit right behind them as the Bruins’ top trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak combined for a goal and two assists. They ran their season total to 71 points.
From one top line to the other, Bergeron was certainly impressed.
“All three of them are great players, no question about it,” Bergeron said. “They see each other well. They’re tough to defend and it was a great challenge, a good matchup. It was a fun game.”
Jake DeBrusk scored twice for the Bruins. Jaroslav Halak finished with 19 saves.
Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara sustained a lower-body injury in the first period and didn’t return. He finished a check on Carl Soderberg along the boards and appeared to favor his left leg. After that, the Bruins were down to five defensemen.
Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said the team would have more information about Chara on Thursday.
“It seems like we’re losing a guy every game,” Halak said. “We need to keep playing hard and whoever comes in the lineup has to step up.”
Avalanche forward Matt Calvert tied the score at 3 early in the third when he banked in a shot off the skate of a Bruins defenseman. That set the stage for MacKinnon, who used his speed to get ahead of the defense and knock in his 12th goal.
“He gave me so much room. It was a great play by (Rantanen),” MacKinnon said.
Both teams scored power-play goals in the second — DeBrusk to give Boston a 3-1 lead and Rantanen to trim the deficit.
Colorado led 1-0 midway through the first after Landeskog scored off a backhand pass from Rantanen. The Bruins hit three posts in the period, but found the net on a tip-in from Pastrnak and 2:37 later DeBrusk cruised in all alone and juked Varlamov for a goal. The breakaway was set up by a turnover from MacKinnon as he sent an errant pass right to DeBrusk, who was trailing the play because he dropped his stick.
“I’ve never seen anything like that in any league,” DeBrusk said. “I didn’t know what happened. I just saw the puck pop out and was at the red line already so I had a good head start.”
Boston and Colorado were looking forward to this matchup, given the offensive firepower of the top lines. Each coach vowed to pit them against each other as often as possible.
They did, too.
“It’s a good motivating factor for MacKinnon’s line and for Bergeron’s line to sort of want to put a stamp on being the best one,” Cassidy said.
MacKinnon and Marchand know each other quite well. Both are from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and sometimes skate together in the offseason. But they work out separately.
“Nate can’t keep up. He’s got to work out with someone else,” Marchand joked. “He’s an incredible player — very hard to play against.”
NOTES: Boston G Tuukka Rask served as a backup. He missed the previous two games as he took a leave of absence for personal reasons. ... Avalanche forward Tyson Jost and Alexander Kerfoot each scored a late power-play goal.
Bruins: The second stop on their four-game trip is Friday in Dallas.
Avalanche: Host the Washington Capitals on Friday.