Nathan MacKinnon matched a career high with his 39th goal and provided the lone score in the shootout, as the surging Colorado Avalanche earned a key 3-2 victory over the visiting Arizona Coyotes on Friday night in Denver, Colo.
The Avalanche seemed headed toward a 2-0 victory as time was winding down in the third period, but Oliver Ekman-Larsson took over for Arizona.
The star defenseman sent a wrister from the far board blue line past Colorado’s Philipp Grubauer to get the Coyotes within a goal with eight minutes left in regulation. Then, with goalie Darcy Kuemper on the bench and an extra skater on the ice, Ekman-Larsson struck from the left circle with 50.5 seconds remaining to tie the game, force overtime and eventually the shootout.
MacKinnon delivered in the one-on-one session and Grubauer (42 saves) was perfect for Colorado, which not only improved to 6-0-1 since March 17, but maintained its hold on the second and final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Arizona, meanwhile, dropped three points behind Colorado in the race for that final playoff spot after falling to 1-3-3 over its last seven. The Coyotes, who last made the playoffs in 2011-12, have dropped a season-high five straight on the road.
Following a scoreless first period, during which Arizona recorded 12 shots on goal and had a little more than four minutes of power-play time, the Avalanche did their regulation damage in the second with the man-advantage.
MacKinnon struck first as captain Gabriel Landeskog, back from a nine-game absence with an upper-body injury, fed him off a perfect cross-slot pass with 6:23 remaining in the period. Then with 33 seconds to go and their power play about to expire, the Avalanche struck again. This time, Derick Brassard waited for an open look and beat Kuemper point-blank to increase the advantage.
Kuemper stopped 25 shots for Arizona.
—Field Level Media