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Rapid Recap: Avalanche 6, Capitals 3

Colorado tallied four times in the first period

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

WASHINGTON--The Colorado Avalanche did most of its scoring early as the club opened its first road trip of the season with a 6-3 victory against the Washington Capitals on Monday at Capital One Arena.

Nazem Kadri (one goal, two assists) and Mikko Rantanen (one goal, two assists) each tallied and had three-point outings, while Erik Johnson, Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Nieto and Nikita Zadorov also scored for Colorado. MacKinnon finished with a goal and an assist while linemate Gabriel Landeskog also picked up multiple points with two helpers.

The Avs scored on their first three shots of the contest to jump out to an early advantage and chase Washington goalie Braden Holtby from the game. Colorado led 4-0 after the first period, but the Capitals cut the deficit in half with two goals in the middle stanza. Nieto's first marker of the season pushed the score to 5-2 at 4:24 of the third frame.

The win keeps Colorado undefeated on the season as the team improves its record to 5-0-0. It is the second-best start for the Avs since they moved to Denver in 1995 (6-0-0, 2013-14) and is tied for the third-best start in franchise history (Quebec Nordiques: 7-0, 1985-86; 6-0, 2013-14; 5-0, 1994-95).

Statistics | Highlights | Photo Gallery | Watch: Coach Bednar Postgame

THE GOALS

1st Period
3:22 COL (1-0) - Erik Johnson scored on a low wrist shot from the left point for his first goal of the season.
6:00 COL (2-0) - Mikko Rantanen passed to Nikita Zadorov in the slot, and the defenseman spun with the puck before firing a shot that found the back of the net.
7:54 COL (3-0) - Nazem Kadri took a stretch pass from Joonas Donskoi in the neutral zone and fired a low shot far side from the top of the left circle.
9:25 COL (4-0) - PPG, Mikko Rantenen scored into an open net after Nazem Kadri's shot rebounded off Ilya Samonov and was redirected by Gabriel Landeskog over to him on the right side.

2nd Period
6:56 WSH (4-1) - Lars Eller tallied on a wrist shot after the Capitals forced a turnover in the offensivie zone.
15:28 WSH (4-2) - T.J. Oshie scored on a backhand shot from the low slot after receiving a pass from high in the zone by Dmitry Orlov.

3rd Period
4:24 COL (5-2) - With goalie Ilya Samsonov out of position, Tyson Jost passed the puck from below the goal line to Matt Nieto, who whacked a shot into the open net while sliding on the ice.
17:39 WSH (5-3) - Alex Ovechkin fired a shot through traffic from the blue line as a power-play chance expired and while the Caps' goalie was pulled for an extra attacker.
19:20 COL (6-3) - ENG, Mikko Rantanen sent the puck up ice for Nathan MacKinnon to seal the win with an empty-net tally.

Final: Avalanche - 6 | Capitals - 3

3 STARS

  1. Nazem Kadri (COL): Recorded his first three-point game as a member of the Avalanche with a goal and two assists
  2. Mikko Rantanen (COL): Tallied the eventual game-winner and added two assists
  3. Alex Ovechkin (WSH): Registered a goal, assist and six shots on goal

Selected by the Washington Capitals' media

POWER PLAYS

Colorado: 1 for 4
Washington: 0 for 2

GOALTENDING BATTLE

Colorado: Philipp Grubauer made 29 saves in his first game back in Washington since being acquired by the Avalanche on June 22, 2018.
Washington: Braden Holtby started the game and allowed three goals on three shots in the first 7:54 before being replaced in goal. Ilya Samonov finished the contest by stopping 19 of the 21 shots he faced.

RETURN TO WASHINGTON

Andre Burakovsky skated in his first game against the Capitals since being acquired by the Avalanche in a trade on June 28. Burakovsky was drafted 23rd overall in 2013 and played in 328 games over five seasons with Washington, winning a Stanley Cup with the team in 2018.

The Capitals did a video tribute for him during the second media timeout of the first period. Burakovsky was also on the ice for the opening faceoff as one of Colorado's starters.

Goaltender Philipp Grubauer is also a former Capital and was on that championship team with Burakovsky in 2018. He was making his first start in Washington since the Avs traded for him in summer 2018. The keeper had played against the Capitals once before, Nov. 16, 2018 in Denver.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

Keep On Streaking: Mikko Rantanen scored and added two assists, Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist and Cale Makar also had a helper, extending their respective season-opening point streaks to five games.

Rantanen and MacKinnon both started last season with nine-game point streaks, which tied John-Michael Liles for the longest to start a campaign in Avalanche history (since 1995-96).

Makar's current five-game run is also historic as he is the first defenseman in franchise history to open his career with points in each of his first five regular-season contests (record previously set in last game on Saturday). Makar is only the fifth defenseman in NHL history to have points in each of his first five career games, joining Marek Zidlicky (2003-04, Nashville), Larry Murphy (1980-81, Los Angeles), Hap Day (1924-25, Toronto St. Pats) and Harry Cameron (1917-18, Toronto Arenas).

Zidlicky holds the record with points in his first six NHL games, a mark that Makar can tie on Wednesday at the Pittsburgh Penguins.

NOTEBOOK

Colorado scored four goals in the first period of a road game for the first time since Nov. 30, 2006 at Edmonton (also four), a 7-3 win… Nazem Kadri recorded a goal and two assists for the first three-point game of the season for Colorado. It was the first time in his career that he registered three points in a period and the 13th time he's achieved the feat in a contest… Kadri has now scored in consecutive games for the first time in his Avalanche career… Burakovsky is on a three-game point streak (two goals, two assists)… Erik Johnson, Matt Nieto and Nikita Zadorov each scored their first goals of the season… The Avalanche has scored at least three goals in all five games it has played this season, the first time the club has done so since moving to Denver in 1995… Colorado has scored a power-play goal in each of the first five games of the season for the first time since 2009-10... Head coach Jared Bednar improved to 3-for-3 with his coach's challenges this year when he challenged for offside at 17:54 of the third frame.

QUOTABLE

Goaltender Philipp Grubauer on having a four-goal cushion after the first period: "That was one of the weirdest starts, one of the craziest ones I've seen in a long time, but obviously a great start. We talked about how we haven't come out too hot in the last four games, so we wanted to make sure that we come out really strong, especially on the road. Yeah, it was good. I thought we played a really good period in the first and then one of the worst periods (in the second) that we've played all year. So we got to clean that up and make some adjustments."

BIG HIGHLIGHT

Video: COL@WSH: Zadorov spins and whips home wrist shot

IMAGE OF THE GAME

Tongue out, guns out.

ROSTER REPORT

Defenseman Ian Cole made his season debut after missing the first four games of the season while recovering from offseason surgery on both of his hips… Cole replaced Mark Barberio on a defensive pairing with Ryan Graves… Barberio, Kevin Connauton and Vladislav Kamenev were the healthy scratches.

INJURY UPDATE

J.T. Compher is still recovering from a lower-body injury and was placed on injured reserve, retroactive to Oct. 5.

UP NEXT

The Avalanche continues its season-long, six-game road trip on Wednesday at the Pittsburgh Penguins. Puck drop is set for 5 p.m. MT in a nationally televised game on NBCSN.

Colorado will also play at the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, St. Louis Blues and Vegas Golden Knights during its first road swing of the campaign.

LINE COMBINATIONS

Based on the start of the game

Forwards
92 Gabriel Landeskog - 29 Nathan MacKinnon - 96 Mikko Rantanen
72 Joonas Donskoi- 91 Nazem Kadri - 95 Andre Burakovsky
83 Matt Nieto - 17 Tyson Jost - 22 Colin Wilson
13 Valeri Nichushkin - 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 11 Matt Calvert

Defensemen
49 Samuel Girard - 6 Erik Johnson
16 Nikita Zadorov - 8 Cale Makar
27 Ryan Graves - 28 Ian Cole

Goaltenders
31 Philipp Grubauer
39 Pavel Francouz

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