A familiar event unfolded Monday night at Ball Arena. The Avalanche outshot its opponent by more than a 2-to-1 margin and skated off victorious.
The Avs, who entered the game ranked first in the NHL in both shots-per-game (34.8) and shots-against (25.2), got the team-high 20th goal of the season from right winger Mikko Rantanen and the 100th career win from goalie Philipp Grubauer in a 5-2 triumph over the Anaheim Ducks.
Colorado (22-8-4), which outshot Anaheim 34-9 after two periods and 48-15 for the game, extended its points streak to 11 games (9-0-2) — the Avs’ first double-digit point streak since Nov. 11 to Dec. 2, 2018 (also 9-0-2). They also extended their point streak at home to nine (8-0-1) — the one overtime loss coming to Vegas on Saturday.
Rantanen scored his NHL-leading 12th goal of the month to open the scoring and fellow forwards Tyson Jost and Gabe Landeskog (power play) struck in the second period to give the Avs a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes. Forwards J.T. Compher and Valeri Nichushkin beat goalie Ryan Miller in the third period shortly after the Ducks got within 3-2.
“It was a great game for us,” Jost said. “It was a great effort by our team and we’re rolling right now. We just want to keep that up.”
Miller, 40, also took the 8-4 loss to the Avs on March 16, allowing seven goals.
Avs superstar defensemen Cale Makar and superstar center Nathan MacKinnon combined for five assists. Makar assisted on Colorado’s last three goals and MacKinnon had assists on the goals from linemates Rantanen and Landeskog. That line combined for four points in the game and 35 in its last seven.
“Obviously it’s nice to score some goals,” said Rantanen, who was tied with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin with an NHL-high 11 goals in March. “It’s not the main reason why I go to the games but obviously I know I have to help the team on the offensive side so it’s nice to capitalize on some chances. Landy and Nate are doing a good job helping me get chances. I can’t complain.”
Anaheim, which got both of its goals from former University of Denver standouts Danton Heinen and Troy Terry, was coming off an overtime victory at St. Louis on Sunday. Heinen tied it 1-1 midway through the second period and Terry beat Grubauer early in the third to get the Ducks within 3-2.
“They played yesterday. We played an afternoon game (Saturday) and then had a day off. So we were the more rested team and I think that showed as the game went on,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “Good start and committed on the defensive side of things.”
He added: “I thought it was a pretty well-played hockey game by us.”
It was the 16th game in a record 17-game month for the Avs, who improved to 19-3-2 when scoring first. Grubauer won for the club-record 11th time in a month, breaking a tie with Semyon Varlamov (2014), Craig Anderson (2009) and Peter Budaj (2007).
The game was the 20th at home for Colorado, all in a fan-free environment. Fans are scheduled to be in attendance at all home games beginning Wednesday against the Arizona Coyotes. Local first responders will be in attendance Wednesday and a maximum of 4,050 regular fans (22% of arena capacity) will be allowed Friday against the St. Louis Blues and beyond.
Footnotes: The Avs again played without rookie defenseman Bo Byram, who is nursing a head injury. He missed his second straight game after absorbing a hit to the head against Vegas on Thursday. … Winger Matt Calvert missed his third consecutive game with an undisclosed injury. Calvert is on the injured list for the third time this season. … Defensemen Erik Johnson (upper body) and goalie Pavel Francouz remain on long-term injured reserve. … The last NHL team to lead the league in both shots-for and shots-against average was the 2009-10 Blackhawks, who won the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015. The Avs also entered Monday leading the NHL in shot differential (+317), nearly twice as much as the next-closest team (Boston +160). … Referee Tom Chmielewski of Colorado Springs worked the game.
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