Cale Makar collected one goal and one assist to lead the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-2 road victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Friday.
Mikko Rantenan and Tyson Jost also scored for the Avalanche (35-13-4, 74 points), who were without their top scorer — Nathan MacKinnon — due to a lower body injury. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 15 saves in the win.
Colorado sits second in the West Division, one point ahead of the Minnesota Wild — with two games in hand — and four points behind the Vegas Golden Knights, who have played one more game than the Avalanche.
Brendan Lemieux and Gabriel Vilardi replied for the Kings (21-25-6, 48 points), who were officially eliminated from playoff contention. Goalie Calvin Petersen stopped 34 shots.
Colorado has won four of the five meetings this season. The Avalanche and Kings meet again on Saturday. They also will conclude the season with a pair of games in Denver.
Buoyed by their pre-game ceremony to honor captain Anze Kopitar for reaching the 1,000-point mark along with the need to win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, Lemieux opened the scoring 2:12 into the game when he converted a long rebound.
However, the Avalanche rebounded with a dominating opening period in which they outshot the hosts 18-5, and Rantanen evened the count at the 5:49 mark when he finished a potent shift by blasting a one-timer from the right circle. It’s his 30th goal of the season and ninth goal in his last 10 games.
Colorado continued to control play and took the lead before the second period’s three-minute mark when Jost, skating in MacKinnon’s place on the top line, sent a shot from the bottom of the left circle that squeezed through Petersen’s legs.
Makar netted the eventual game winner just past the midway point with a goal that showcased his skill. The defenseman was the trailer on the rush, gained the puck inside the blueline, worked to the net and deposited the puck after a deke. Alex Newhook, a 2019 first-round draft choice, collected his first NHL point on the goal, an assist, in his second game with the club.
Vilardi made it a frantic finish when his backhand goal brought the hosts back to a one-goal deficit with 2:34 remaining in regulation but couldn’t find the equalizer that would have kept their season alive.
–Field Level Media