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MacKinnon scores four goals to lift Avalanche over Capitals

Nathan MacKinnon Colorado Avalanche Nathan MacKinnon - The Canadian Press

DENVER (AP) — Nathan MacKinnon scored three of his four goals consecutively in the second period for a natural hat trick and added an assist to help the Colorado Avalanche beat the Washington Capitals 6-2 on Wednesday night.

MacKinnon, the NHL scoring leader with 82 points, had his second four-goal game of the season and eighth career hat trick. He ran his home points streak to 24 to break a tie with Joe Sakic for the franchise record.

“He’s always been the most dedicated guy off the ice since I’ve been here but what he’s doing this year, he’s really consistent with it,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “I’m talking going from great to elite habits off the ice.”

Mikko Rantanen had a goal and four assists for his first five-point game, Cale Makar set the franchise record for goals by a defenseman with his 76th and Alexandar Georgiev made 23 saves.

MacKinnon selflessly ceded a chance for his a hat trick Saturday in Philadelphia, passing to Logan O’Connor so he could get his first.

MacKinnon didn’t pass up the opportunity Wednesday, scoring three times in a 6:37 span of the second period. The first two were one-timers on the power play. On the third, he deked Charlie Lindgren and beat him with a backhander at 9:16 for just the second natural hat trick since the franchise moved to Colorado in 1995. Sakic had the other one, March 13, 2003, at Columbus.

“It’s always nice to score four. I’d be lying if I said anything different,” MacKinnon said. “Right now they're going in for me.”

MacKinnon’s other four-goal was Dec. 21 against Ottawa when he also had five points. He has at least one point in all 11 games in January, with one remaining before the teams has 10 days off.

“He couldn’t surprise me,” Bednar said. “That’s just where he’s at. You look at what he does on a nightly basis, what am I going to say?”

Lindgren stopped 27 shots and Dylan Strome had two goals for Washington, The Capitals have lost three straight, falling 5-3 at Minnesota on Tuesday night.

“I liked a lot of the things we did tonight,” coach Spencer Carbery said. “I know the scoreboard will not reflect that whatsoever but I liked a lot of the things we did.”

The Capitals outshot the Avalanche 8-2 to open the game but didn’t take advantage of their first two power plays. Instead, Makar scored his first regular-season short-handed goal late in the first.

“I thought we had a decent first period and then give up the shorty,” Strome said. “They have a pretty lethal property and they go up 3-0.”


Capitals: At Dallas on Saturday night.

Avalanche: Host Los Angeles on Friday night.

___ AP NHL: