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Avalanche defeat Predators to clinch playoff spot

Mar 30, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) skates with the puck against Nashville Predators center Ryan O'Reilly (90) during the first period at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Nathan MacKinnon had two goals and two assists, Cale Makar had a goal and two assists, and the Colorado Avalanche clinched a playoff spot with a 7-4 win over the Nashville Predators in Denver on Saturday night.

Jonathan Drouin had a goal and an assist, Yakov Trenin scored against his former team, Artturi Lehkonen and Casey Mittlestadt had goals and Mikko Rantanen had three assists for Colorado (47-21-6, 100 points).

MacKinnon leads the NHL with 127 points and Rantanen reached 100 points.

Justus Annunen turned away 22 shots in relief of Alexandar Georgiev, who had nine saves. Defenseman Sean Walker left in the second period after he was hit in the ribs with a shot.

Gustav Nyquist had a goal and an assist, Dante Fabbro, Mark Jankowski and Cole Smith also scored and Kevin Lankinen made 35 saves for Nashville (43-27-4, 90 points).

Smith made it 1-0 with his ninth goal at 3:41 of the first period and Drouin answered with his 15th at 5:25 of the first. Nashville went ahead 3-1 when Jankowski scored his sixth at 13:02 of the first and
Fabbro got his third 41 seconds later.

The Avalanche got one back at 16:11 of the first on Mittelstadt’s 18th of the season.

The Predators struck again 57 seconds into the second period on Nyquist’s 22nd of the season. Georgiev was given an unsportsmanlike penalty for sending the puck into the stands and Annunen took over in net.

Moments after killing off the power play, Nashville defenseman Ryan McDonagh was given a major penalty and a game misconduct for a hit on Colton, and Lehkonen’s 13th goal at 5:43 on the five-minute power play made it 4-3.

Makar tied it with his 19th of the season, a power-play goal at 18:25 of the second period, and Trenin’s goal 1:06 later gave the Avalanche a 5-4 lead. It was his 12th of the season.

MacKinnon’s goal at 3:38 into the third to expand the lead and then he scored into the empty net at 16:10 to give him a career-high 47 goals.

–Field Level Media

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