MacKinnon’s 2 goals lead Avalanche past Panthers, 2-1
DENVER (AP) — Nathan MacKinnon wasn’t happy with his game against Washington on Tuesday, so the young center made up for it when the Florida Panthers came to town.
MacKinnon scored twice, Semyon Varlamov made 32 saves and the Colorado Avalanche beat Florida 2-1 on Thursday night for their second victory over the Panthers in five days.
Colorado won 7-3 in Florida on Saturday night and swept the season series behind a strong game from MacKinnon. He had his third two-goal game and leads the Avalanche with 35 points.
MacKinnon played 21 minutes in the 5-2 loss to the Capitals and registered a minus-3 to cap a four-game road trip. He bounced back with a big performance to begin a three-game homestand.
“That line, Nate in particular, was unhappy with the last game,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “It was sort of a tough day in Wash and that was a hungry and determined line tonight. Mac especially, he doubled up almost the whole game and made the most of his ice time for sure.”
MacKinnon gave Colorado a 2-1 lead when he worked his way around defenseman Aaron Ekblad, skated in on goalie James Reimer and put in a shot to the short side at 6:44 of the third period. It was MacKinnon’s team-leading 13th goal of the season.
The goal came exactly two minutes after Reimer robbed MacKinnon on the doorstep. Reimer finished with 28 saves.
“I knew I was going short side. I didn’t mean to put it low or high,” MacKinnon said. “I just kind of threw it and whacked at it again. I’m not sure if that helped it go in or not. After getting robbed, it was nice to get that one back. It was a great save.”
The Panthers, who are 1-2-1 in their last four games, had several early chances to score but Varlamov came up big. His best save was on Connor Brickley’s shot from the slot late in the first period.
“I liked our start,” Florida coach Bob Boughner said. “I thought we came out hard and we had some good scoring chances but we didn’t bury them. They made some saves, we hit a few posts and then we got into some penalty trouble.”
The Avalanche took a 1-0 lead on MacKinnon’s first goal at 3:15 of the second. The Panthers tied it midway through the period when Jamie McGinn poked the puck away from Colorado defenseman Samuel Girard and fed Aleksander Barkov, who beat Varlamov for his 11th goal of the season.
Florida nearly took the lead moments later when Vincent Trocheck’s shot to the short side got under Varlamov’s glove, but hit the post.
“I thought we battled hard, for the most part,” Reimer said. “Another good game. I thought we worked hard and unfortunately just didn’t get the bounces at the end.”
NOTES: The Panthers have not allowed a power-play goal in four straight games. ... Avalanche forward Alexander Kerfoot was out of the lineup for the second straight game. Kerfoot was injured when a shot by teammate Erik Johnson hit him in the foot against Pittsburgh on Monday. ... Florida C Denis Malgin was scratched. He left Tuesday’s overtime loss in Chicago with an upper-body injury and didn’t return. ... Colorado has allowed six short-handed goals this season, and the Panthers have scored six on the penalty kill.
Panthers: Make their first trip to Vegas to play the Golden Knights on Sunday.
Avalanche: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.
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