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Rantanen's four-point night lifts Avs over Flames

Colorado Avalanche celebrate Colorado Avalanche - The Canadian Press

CALGARY — Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon were a deadly duo once again on Tuesday night.

Rantanen had two goals and two assists to extend his point streak to 10 games while MacKinnon had a goal and an assist to stretch his point streak to 13 games as the Colorado Avalanche cruised to a 6-2 victory over the Calgary Flames.

MacKinnon is up to a league-leading 113 points (41 goals, 72 assists) on the season, a career-high. He is six points up on Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov.

"It's just who he is," said Avs coach Jared Bednar. "The drive to be the best player he can be, keep improving his game in little areas and whether it's just a fraction in one area that helps him get better and a fraction in another one, he's constantly looking to improve."

The franchise record is 139 points set by Peter Stastny in 1981-82, while the team was based in Quebec. MacKinnon is on pace for 138.

"If he keeps playing like he has, and I have no doubt he will, I think it's a good chance,” said Rantanen, asked if his linemate can break the record.

During MacKinnon's 13-game spree, he's piled up 28 points (9 goals, 19 assists). Rantanen, meanwhile, has 18 points (4 goals, 14 assists) over his 10-game heater.

For new Avs forward Casey Mittlestadt, who scored his first goal with the team, being teammates with the two of them sure beats playing against them.

"When you're playing against (MacKinnon) or even watching him, it might make you a little angry just wondering how he does it,” said Mittlestadt. “Mikko is the most underrated player in the league. Just the plays he and Nate make together are crazy. I'm happy to be on their side."

Valeri Nichushkin, with a goal and two assists, and Josh Manson also scored for Colorado (41-20-5).

The Avs' fourth win in a row pulls them into a tie with idle Winnipeg for second in the tightly contested Central Division. The Jets hold two games in hand. Dallas, which lost to Florida, leads the division by two points.

Daniil Miromanov, with his first goal as a Flame, and Walker Duehr scored for Calgary (31-29-5).

On the heels of blowout losses to Florida and Carolina on the weekend, the Flames have lost three games in a row by a combined score of 18-5.

“We got three good lessons here, simple as that,” said Flames captain Mikael Backlund. “'Everyone in this room's gotta look at himself and be better.”

While the Avs were adding reinforcements last week, Calgary was doing the opposite, trading away veterans to acquire younger players.

Nazem Kadri recognizes that it's going to take some time to jell.

“We've got a lot of new bodies, new faces, learning new systems. So, there's going to be some crossover where chemistry is not great and there are some brain lapses,” said the Flames centre.

Although on this night, coach Ryan Huska singled out his veterans.

“The new faces, I don't think, are the issue per se,” Huska said. “There's guys on the ice that have been here for a number of years who still made mistakes over the last few games that they normally don't make.”

Rookie Avs goaltender Justus Annunen made 25 saves to improve to 4-2-1.

Dan Vladar, pulled after two periods having surrendered six goals on 35 shots, was tagged with the loss to fall to 8-9-2. Rookie Dustin Wolf made three stops in relief.

The Flames were up 2-1 after 20 minutes despite being outshot 19-9, but the dam burst in the second with Colorado erupting for five unanswered goals.

Fifty-eight seconds after Manson tied it at 4:52, MacKinnon wired the game-winner into the top corner from a sharp angle after being set up by a cross-ice pass from Nichushkin.

Making it three goals in three minutes, Nichushkin took a cross-ice feed from Rantanen and snapped his 24th goal past Vladar to make it 4-2.


Three Flames defencemen made their first appearance at the Saddledome. Miromanov and Nikita Okhotiuk were acquired last week via trades. Joel Hanley was claimed on waivers. It was the first game for Calgary for Okhotiuk, who drew in as the seventh defenceman when Andrei Kuzmenko (upper body) was a late scratch.


Jacob Markstrom was supposed to start, but the club announced in the afternoon that the Flames No. 1 goaltender was out with a lower-body injury, prompting the club to call up Wolf from the Calgary Wranglers (AHL) to be the backup.


Avalanche: Continue their road trip on Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks.

Flames: Play host to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 12, 2024.