February 27, 2018 / 5:19 AM / 3 months ago

MacKinnon scores twice as Avalanche top Canucks

Nathan MacKinnon scored two goals, including the winner, as the host Colorado Avalanche beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 on Monday night in Denver.

MacKinnon’s first goal, on a wrist shot during a rush down the wing at 7:52 of the third period, gave the Avalanche an insurmountable 2-0 lead.

His 28th of the season went into an empty net in the final minute after Vancouver goaltender Jacob Markstrom was pulled for an extra attacker.

Mikko Rantanen also scored for the Avalanche, who moved within two points of the Western Conference’s second wild-card position. Colorado now won 11 of its past 12 home games.

Daniel Sedin scored in the final two minutes for the Canucks, who took their second loss in three games, with both defeats coming against Colorado.

Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov stopped 31 of 32 shots for his 16th win of the season. Markstrom, starting for the second night in a row, recorded 25 saves on 27 shots. On Sunday, he stopped 41 shots in a 3-1 win at Arizona.

Vancouver lost a large piece of its offense earlier Monday as veteran winger Thomas Vanek, the team’s second-leading scorer, was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for journeyman winger Jussi Jokinen, 34, and fellow forward Tyler Motte, 22. Neither Jokinen, who joined his fourth team this season, nor Motte played against Colorado. However, the Canucks were thinking more about defense than offense against the Avalanche.

Vancouver entered the game hoping to shut down Colorado’s power play after being embarrassed by it six days earlier. The Avalanche scored five man-advantage goals in a 5-4 overtime win on Feb. 20 at Vancouver after the Canucks led 4-1.

The Avalanche scored on only one of five power plays Monday, but their lone man-advantage marker forced the Canucks to play catch-up early.

It came at 19:36 of the first period as Rantanen put home a shot from the slot. Rantanen put the puck in the net again midway through the second period, but the goal was disallowed because Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog was found guilty of goaltender interference on a coach’s challenge by Vancouver bench boss Travis Green.

With the Avalanche ahead 2-0 in the third period, Green pulled Markstrom in favor of an extra attacker with more than two minutes remaining. The move paid off as Sedin fired in a sharp-angled shot with 1:16 left.

However, with Markstrom pulled again after a brief return to the crease for an ensuing faceoff, MacKinnon iced the victory with his empty-netter.

Forward Brendan Leipsic joined the Canucks after being acquired earlier Monday from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for defenseman Philip Holm, but he did not play against the Avalanche.

—Field Level Media

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