Donskoi scores 3 goals as Avalanche beat Predators 9-4
DENVER (AP) — With a dizzying flurry of goals in one electric eight-minute stretch, the Colorado Avalanche rediscovered their offense and ended nearly four years of frustration at home against Nashville.
Joonas Donskoi scored his first career hat trick and Colorado used a six-goal second period to beat the Predators 9-4 on Thursday night.
Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and three assists before sitting out the third with an upper-body injury. Cale Makar and Ryan Graves each added a goal and two assists for the Avalanche, who snapped an eight-game home losing streak to Nashville dating back to Jan. 8, 2016.
Colorado coach Jared Bednar said MacKinnon was held out as a precaution.
It was the sixth time the Avalanche scored at least nine goals — and their eight-minute outburst marked the fastest six goals in franchise history. The Quebec Nordiques scored six times in 8:06 during a game in 1992.
“It doesn’t happen too often, so when it happens you have to enjoy it,” said forward Andre Burakovsky, who had a goal and two assists. “It was fun to see so many guys score, and that’s what we need. We need everyone on the team.”
The Avalanche managed just two goals in the previous three games, and Donskoi topped that all by himself with a big night. He has eight goals this season, one behind MacKinnon for the team lead.
“That felt good,” Donskoi said. “I don’t think I’ve ever scored a hat trick in any league, so it was fun.”
Not for Nashville, which fell apart on defense for the second time in four games. The Predators gave up four goals in the third period of a 6-5 overtime loss to Calgary last week.
“I feel like we lost every battle. We didn’t compete,” defenseman Roman Josi said. “We got embarrassed out there.
“Even in the first I thought we didn’t play that well. We took too many penalties, we needed way more chances, and the second was even worse.”
Nashville led 3-2 after Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene scored in the first 4:55 of the second period, but Colorado took over with six goals in eight minutes. Donskoi and Graves scored 20 seconds apart and Burakovsky got another 1:11 later to make it 5-3 and chase Predators goalie Pekka Rinne.
Rinne, who came into the game with a 2.31 goals-against average versus Colorado, gave up five goals on 22 shots.
Juuse Saros came on and allowed a short-handed goal to Matt Nieto 50 seconds later. Matt Calvert scored at 10:01 and Donskoi’s second of the night at 13:26 made it 8-3.
“That was insane. I think it showed a lot about the character in this locker room,” Donskoi said. “We lost a couple of games before and they got a couple goals but we didn’t hang our heads, we just kept going.”
Craig Smith scored in the third period for Nashville, and Donskoi completed the hat trick with his eighth of the season at 17:53.
Pavel Francouz made 20 saves for the win in place of Philipp Grubauer. Bednar said Grubauer will miss two games with a lower-body injury.
Makar scored his second of the season 50 seconds into the game. Ryan Ellis tied it midway through the first and MacKinnon got his ninth during a 5-on-3 power play late in the first.
NOTES: Saros finished with 19 saves. ... Colorado D Nikita Zadorov sat out the third period with an upper-body injury. ... Rinne is 25-9-2 against the Avalanche. ... The Avalanche recalled goalie Adam Werner from Colorado of the AHL. Werner, the team’s fifth-round draft pick in 2016, was 5-4 with a 2.88 goals-against average in nine games for the Eagles. The Avalanche also recalled C T.J. Tynan from the AHL. He picked up his first NHL point with an assist on Donskoi’s third goal.
Predators: Play at San Jose on Saturday.
Avalanche: Host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.