CHICAGO (AP) — The speedy, high-scoring Colorado Avalanche got right back on track following a rare regulation loss.
Ian Cole and Mikko Rantanen each had a goal and an assist, and Colorado beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 Wednesday night.
Nathan MacKinnon and Andre Burakovksy also scored for Colorado, which is 9-1-1 in its past 11 games. The Avalanche lost 5-2 at St. Louis on Monday but rebounded to remain three points behind the first-place Blues in the Central Division.
“We have a mindset that we never lose two in a row,” Burakovksy said. “St. Louis was not our best one, so we needed to bounce back.”
The Avalanche’s marquee line of MacKinnon, Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog led the way. Landeskog added two assists as the trio combined for five points.
Colorado is 3-0 against the Blackhawks this season and has outscored its last-place Central rival 16-5. Avalanche players said they didn’t take slumping Chicago for granted.
“We were just trying to play our best,” MacKinnon said “You never really know what the other team is going to give you. I think the best way to play is to focus on your own game.”
Ryan Carpenter got his second goal of the season for the fading Blackhawks, who have lost five of six.
Pavel Francouz made 31 saves for Colorado. Corey Crawford blocked 32 shots for Chicago.
The Blackhawks failed to benefit from the return of defenseman Duncan Keith, who missed nine games with a groin injury after leaving midway through a contest against Colorado on Nov. 29. The 36-year-old, two-time Norris Trophy winner entered leading Chicago with 23:51 of ice time per game and played 23:16 in this one.
Keith said he “felt good” but didn’t have the same vibe about his team.
“We’ve got to get a little more emotion,” Keith said. “It’s not just going to turn around. It’s not going to just happen. We need to make it happen.
“We can go over the X’s and O’s and everything and all this stuff, but I think everybody, myself, included, has to play with more energy and little more grit and be a little more mean out there.”
The game was tied at 1 after one period, although Colorado outshot Chicago 19-6 in the frame.
Crawford made several tough saves early, including a stop of MacKinnon on a breakaway.
Cole opened the scoring at 8:41 on a shot from the top of the slot that sailed past Crawford as MacKinnon and Connor Murphy tussled in the slot.
Carpenter scored just over a minute later to tie it. Mark Barberio’s weak clearing attempt off the boards landed on Alex DeBrincat’s stick. He fed Carpenter, who beat Francouz with a wrister from the right circle.
The Avalanche pounced on sloppy Chicago play to score 2:19 apart midway through the second for a 3-1 lead.
MacKinnon connected for his 21st goal — on his fifth shot of the game — at 7:49 to put Colorado ahead. After slipping past Keith and Murphy near the Chicago blueline, MacKinnon took Rantanen’s feed, broke in alone and beat Crawford with another shot high on the stick side.
Burakovsky made it 3-1 at 10:08 with his 13th goal. He picked off the puck at center ice, powered back into the Chicago zone and took a quick shot from the right circle.
“The second period they started to rack up some shots and put a little pressure on us, then MacKinnon comes up with a big goal,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “We made a couple plays there. From there I thought we had a pretty good third period too.”
The Avalanche managed their lead cleanly through the third, although the Blackhawks twice rattled shots off the post and had a couple of close in chances. Rantanen added a long empty-netter with 2:56 left.
NOTES: MacKinnon has three goals and five assists in a six-game points streak. … Blackhawks D Brent Seabrook was a healthy scratch for the third time this season. Seabrook, 34, started his NHL career in Chicago along with Keith in 2005-06. … Chicago D Calvin de Haan (shoulder) missed his fourth game. High-scoring Colorado rookie D Cale Makar (upper-body) missed his fifth game and D Erik Johnson (lower-body) missed his 11th.
Avalanche: Host Carolina on Thursday.
Blackhawks: At Winnipeg on Thursday.
By MATT CARLSON Associated Press
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