MacKinnon sparks Avs’ win over Stars
DENVER — Nathan MacKinnon’s offensive production is something the Colorado Avalanche are coming to expect.
Trying to predict how the playmaking 22-year-old will make that look on any given night? Well, that can be more of a surprise.
Nail Yakupov scored with fractions of a second remaining in the second period thanks to one of MacKinnon’s three assists, and Jonathan Bernier had a 28-save shutout as the Colorado Avalanche beat the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Wednesday night.
MacKinnon won a faceoff in the Stars’ zone with 1.9 seconds left in the period, and Yakupov rifled a shot from between the circles past Dallas goalie Ben Bishop to put Colorado up 2-0. Video review showed the puck crossing the goal line with 0.2 seconds left on the clock.
“These plays almost never work,” MacKinnon said. “It bounced and then it kind of came to me and I just shoveled it back to him, and he one-timed it. Those are fun because they are unexpected late in a period like that.”
Erik Johnson and Gabriel Landeskog also scored for the Avalanche, who improved to 7-1-1 at home this season. MacKinnon’s three helpers give him 20 points — six goals and 14 assists — in his past 10 games. Mikko Rantanen added two assists for Colorado.
“I liked our game tonight,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “I thought we had a really good start, good energy at the start. We were jumping.”
Bishop stopped 29 shots for the Stars, who lost a night after they beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-1. They are 1-5-0 on games played on consecutive nights and 3-8-1 on the road this season.
“We’re doing a lot of things technically right, but there’s the little things you need to do on the road to win, and we’re not doing them,” Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We’re getting them done to us, quite frankly.”
The Stars were shut out for the first time this season. And what’s worse, they are now 1-6-0 inside the Central Division.
“That’s a startling stat and something you can’t be very happy with,” Bishop said. “It’s something we have to change here. We have some division games coming up in the next few, so we’ll have to really take the onus and try to win those division games.”
The Avalanche opened the scoring 3:02 into the second period on Johnson’s second goal of the year. MacKinnon weaved through the defense as he raced down the ice and left it for Johnson, who slid a shot under Bishop’s pads to make it 1-0.
After Yakupov beat the clock in the second, Landeskog added Colorado’s third goal of the night under Bishop’s armpit at 1:11 of the third. The Avalanche have scored three or more goals in every home game this year.
“When we bring our best, we’re really hard to contain,” MacKinnon said of his line. “We want to make teams worry about us and not us worrying about them. The past month, we’ve been doing that.”
In the opening period, Colorado outshot Dallas 14-9 but had to dodge an early mistake to keep things scoreless. On a power play, the Stars cleared the puck and Bernier misplayed it off the back boards. Antoine Roussel took a whack as the puck sliced into the crease, but Bernier reached his stick far enough to deflect the puck into the crossbar.
Not long after that, Bishop gloved an expert tip-in chance by Blake Comeau.
“That’s a tough one to lose,” Dallas left winger Jamie Benn said. “(Bishop) played a great game and made huge saves, especially early in the first. They came out of the gates pretty hot there, and he stood on his head.
“It was unfortunate that we couldn’t give him some support.”
NOTES: Dallas recalled LW Curtis McKenzie from the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League and reassigned D Julius Honka. ... The Avalanche recalled G Andrew Hammond from AHL San Antonio to back up G Jonathan Bernier, who was in net for a second consecutive game for ill-starter Semyon Varlamov. Hammond was acquired from Ottawa earlier in the month as part of the trade that sent C Matt Duchene to the Senators. ... RW Sven Andrighetto was a healthy scratch for Colorado, while LW Gabriel Bourque returned to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch the previous three games. D Andrei Mironov was also a scratch. ... The Stars scratched D Marc Methot (knee), C Martin Hanzal (hand) and G Kari Lehtonen (personal reasons).