Landeskog’s hat trick leads Avalanche past Capitals
DENVER — Gabriel Landeskog’s quest for a hat trick looked futile when he rang a shot off the post late in the third period.
He got a second chance on the power play, and this time the Colorado Avalanche captain didn’t miss.
Landeskog scored three goals — one on a penalty shot — for his first career hat trick, and Colorado beat the Washington Capitals 6-2 on Thursday night.
Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and four assists, Mikko Rantanen had a goal and three assists and Semyon Varlamov stopped 28 shots for the Avalanche (9-7-1).
Colorado’s top line finished with 11 points.
“Tonight, everything just kind of went in,” said MacKinnon, whose five points were a career best. “You know, we got together (in) the Chicago game and we’ve been going good ever since then, creating a lot of offense and yeah, we’re feeling good.”
Colin Wilson scored his first goal for Colorado since coming over in a trade with Nashville in the offseason.
It was Colorado’s first win in Denver since trading Matt Duchene to Ottawa on Nov. 5 the day before leaving for Sweden to face the Senators in the NHL Global Series.
Evgeny Kuznetsov and Brett Connolly scored and Philipp Grubauer had 22 saves for Washington.
The Capitals were swept on their two-game road trip, giving up six goals in each. They fell behind 2-0 in the first period at Nashville on Tuesday and again in Colorado.
“I’m absolutely disappointed, angry, a lot of different emotions,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said. “I expected a lot better. I expected a better start. We were slow and sort of lethargic. We talked two straight games about coming out of that and we were down a goal right away.”
The poor starts prompted a quick meeting after the game.
“We need everybody engaged every night,” Connolly said. “We can’t have any passengers. It’s a good time for guys to look themselves in the mirror, ‘Am I doing as much as I can to help this team win.’ It starts there.
“It’s a good thing it’s game 20 and not game 50. We’re a quarter way through here and we’re not where we want to be.”
Sam Girard, the 19-year-old defenseman acquired from Nashville in the three-way trade for Duchene, had an assist. Center Vladislav Kamenev, also from Nashville, made his Avalanche debut before leaving with a broken arm in the second period.
Their first impressions were positive until Kamenev suffered his injury on a check by Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik.
“You hate to see that,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “A kid coming up and getting a good opportunity to jump in and he’s new to the organization. I know he really wants to impress. He’s a little bit down in the dumps, he suffered a pretty bad injury and he’s going to miss some time.”
The Avalanche were playing at home for the first time since Nov. 2 and wasted no time in getting comfortable on home ice again with Landeskog’s goal 17 seconds into the game.
Washington dominated most of the first, outshooting the Avalanche 11-3 in one stretch, but MacKinnon made it 2-0 with his sixth goal with 6.2 seconds left in the period.
Wilson gave Colorado a three-goal lead with his first of the season at 12:25 of the second.
Connolly scored his second goal at 18:36 to make it 3-1.
The Avalanche had a goal disallowed on goaltender interference a minute later, but Landeskog restored the three-goal cushion when he scored on a penalty shot at 4:59 of the third.
“It was big,” Landeskog said. “I’m not really a shootout specialist by any means but I was able to sneak that one in.”
He got the hat trick — and his team-leading eighth goal — on the power play at 19:34 of the third.
“It felt good to get that third one,” Landeskog said. “I had a couple of good looks before.”
Rantanen added a power-play goal midway through the third, his sixth of the season, and Kuznetsov answered at 13:11 to make it 5-2.
NOTES: Colorado C Tyson Jost was sent to San Antonio of the AHL on a conditioning assignment. Jost has missed eight straight games with a lower-body injury. ... Washington rookie D Christian Djoos was scratched with an upper-body injury. ... Avalanche D Tyson Barrie, the team’s second-leading scorer with 14 points heading into Thursday night, was scratched with an upper-body injury. Coach Jared Bednar said Barrie could be back in the lineup Saturday at Nashville. ... Capitals rookie LW Jakub Vrana was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. ... Colorado D Patrik Nemeth (lower body) and Anton Lindholm (broken jaw) were also scratched.