Rantanen scores twice, MacKinnon extends home points streak as Avalanche beat Blue Jackets 6-1

Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen (96) celebrates after scoring with right wing Valeri Nichushkin (13), left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) and center Nathan MacKinnon (29) in the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Friday, March 22, 2024, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) — Mikko Rantanen had two goals and an assist, Nathan MacKinnon extended his home points streak to 33 games with a third-period score and the Colorado Avalanche routed the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-1 on Friday night.

Cale Makar, Ross Colton and Valeri Nichushkin added goals for the Avalanche, who won their eighth straight game as they surged to the top of the Central Division. Alexandar Georgiev stopped 23 shots for his 36th win of the season.

“A lot of guys are feeling good about their game now. I would say everybody,” said Rantanen, whose team had 51 shots on goal. “So we’re just trying to ride the streak now and keep it going.”

Trailing 1-0, the Avalanche scored six straight goals for their 24th comeback victory.

“I just wish that maybe we start with a goal a little more often than the other team,” Georgiev joked. “We’re confident in our group.”

MacKinnon scored on a breakaway at 6:01 of the third to keep his home points streak going, and later had an assist. It’s the second-longest home points streak to open a season in NHL history, trailing only Wayne Gretzky’s mark of 40 in 1988-89.

“Guys are obviously rooting for (MacKinnon) and try to help him keep it going,” Rantanen said.

Damon Severson scored for a Columbus team that has tumbled to last in the Eastern Conference. The Blue Jackets are 0-1-1 on a five-game trip. Elvis Merzlikins was kept busy all night, making 45 saves.

“(The Avalanche) kind of have that sixth sense where they don’t even have to look and know where the guy is going to be,” Severson said. “That’s a team that we should aspire to be one day in this locker room.”

Colton and Rantanen scored 1:24 apart in the second period to help Colorado take control. Rantanen, who had a hat trick in St. Louis on Tuesday night, is four points away from his second straight 100-point season.

The Blue Jackets thought they made it a one-goal game in the second period on a wild play where the puck bounced off a Columbus player’s glove, sprang off the top of the net and was batted in by Dmitri Voronkov. But the officials ruled a hand pass and the goal was negated.

The first period featured two shots off the post, two more off the crossbar and two that found the back of the net, one goal by each side.

Severson gave the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead when a sliding pass across the ice from Johnny Gaudreau bounced off Severson’s skate and past Georgiev. Makar tied it up on a wrist shot after a pinpoint pass from Artturi Lehkonen.

“You can tell why that team is contending for and hoping for a long, long run in the playoffs,” Columbus coach Pascal Vincent said of an Avalanche team that won the Stanley Cup in 2022. “That’s a real good hockey team.”

Before the game, there was a moment of silence for rugged former NHL winger Chris Simon, who died by suicide this week at 52. He won the Stanley Cup with Joe Sakic and the Avalanche in 1996.

Simon played 15 NHL seasons from 1993-2008. Over his career, he fought more than 100 times and racked up 1,824 penalty minutes to rank 67th in league history.


Blue Jackets: At Vegas on Saturday night.

Avalanche: Host Pittsburgh on Sunday.


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