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Landeskog and MacKinnon Continue Climb on Scoring Charts

Mikko Rantanen also plays a key factor in the Avs' win over the Wild

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon continue to cement themselves in the franchise record books, and Mikko Rantanen was there to help his linemates along the way.

With the game against the Minnesota Wild tied at 2-2 going into the final minutes of the second period, Rantanen fed Landeskog a clean pass to the front of the net and the Colorado Avalanche captain buried the ensuing shot for his 178th goal of his career and gave the Avs the advantage heading into the break.

The marker moved Landeskog into a tie with Matt Duchene for seventh-place all-time in franchise history in goals and ended up as the game-winner in the Avalanche's 4-2 win on Saturday night at Pepsi Center.

"It was good entry by us I think. We spread the play and then we come back again," Rantanen said. "It's hard for defensive teams to defend that. I think four guys on the rush and then Nate tried to go to [Ryan Graves], it came through to me and then it was kind of a 2-on-1. I tried to sell the shot a little bit, and Landy was stopped at the net like he should do and he was in a good spot."

Landeskog had plenty of room on the far side of ice and a wide open net to tap in the puck after Rantanen drew the defenders to him before delivering a clean pass through the slot.

"I'm not surprised when I get those on my tape from Mikko anymore," Landeskog said. "He's been serving those for years. I am glad I was able to put it in."

Video: MIN@COL: Landeskog tips home Rantanen's nice feed

Drafted No. 2 overall in 2011, Landeskog has tallied the second-most goals from his selection class, as only defending league MVP and Art Ross Trophy winner Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning has tallied more (189).

The goal also gave Landeskog 418 career points, 10 behind Duchene for 10th place all-time in scoring in Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques history.

For MacKinnon, he registered his second assist of the contest on Landeskog's tally after picking up his first helper of the evening on Rantanen's power-play goal at 4:30 of the first period that gave Colorado a 1-0 lead. His two assists on the night give him 250 in his career and tied him with Duchene for the 10th most in franchise history.

Rantanen's two-point night brings his season total to four (three goals, one assist) on the season following two games. The right wing opened the 2018-19 campaign with a nine-game point streak, tied with MacKinnon (also 2018-19) and John-Michael Liles (2010-11) for the longest to begin a season in Avalanche history.

The three players have been on the same line for most of the previous two seasons, and it appears as if the trio has picked up where they left off in 2018-19. Last year, MacKinnon led the team with 41 goals while Landeskog was second with 34 and Rantanen third with 31. It was just the second Avalanche team that featured three 30-goal scorers (1995-96 squad had four players).

"Big line was good tonight too," said head coach Jared Bednar. "They capitalized when they needed to, especially on the go-ahead goal."

AVALANCHE FIRSTS

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare tallied his first goal in a Colorado sweater, while fellow newcomer Valeri Nichushkin picked up his first point with the Avs with an assist on the play.

Bellemare's tally was the result of a hard-working sequence by the French forward, as his initial wraparound attempt was stopped but he grabbed the loose puck and swatted it in to give the Avalanche a 2-0 lead just 5:57 into the game.

Colorado signed Bellemare as a free agent on July 1 after the center spent the previous two seasons with the Vegas Golden Knight. The Avs inked Nichushkin, the Dallas Stars' 10th overall pick in the 2013 draft, to a one-year deal on Aug. 19.

Video: MIN@COL: Bellemare jams puck home from side of net

MAKAR ON POINT

Cale Makar assisted on Rantanen's tally, giving him two helpers on the season. He is the first rookie defenseman to register a point in his first two regular-season appearances since Stefan Elliott did it in three straight contests from Nov. 26-30, 2011 (two goals one assist).

Makar joined the Avalanche for its postseason run last year after completing his college career at the University of Massachusetts. He led all rookie blueliners in the playoffs with six points (one goal, five assists) in 10 games.

CALVERT'S HALF-MILLENNIUM NIGHT

Forward Matt Calvert appeared in his 500th career NHL game on Saturday and recorded his second point of the new campaign with an assist on Bellemare's goal.

"I think every game is so important when you are young trying to stay in that lineup, becoming an NHLer for good," Calvert said after morning skate when reflecting on the milestone. "I think after you have solidified your role and you have been in the NHL for two or three years, it is about not getting comfortable.

"It doesn't get easier every day, and that is the best part about it. We got the best hockey players in the world in this league, and you got to battle every day. It has been a battle for me for 500 games and I hope I have a lot more battle in me." 

Calvert, who posted personal highs in assists (15-tied) and points (26) last season, has 177 points (83 goals, 94 assists) in his career split between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Avalanche.

MORE NOTES

Ryan Graves scored and finished with a career-high plus-3 rating. He has recorded points in consecutive games for the second time in his career (two goals, Jan. 4-8, 2019).

Going back to last season, Colorado is 9-2-2 in its last 13 games against Central Division opponents, including a 4-1-0 mark at home.

The Avs have won eight straight regular-season games at Pepsi Center going back to the 2018-19 campaign. Colorado is 13-2-1 in its last 16 regular-season home outings. Including the postseason, the Avalanche is 12-1 in its last 13 contests at Pepsi Center and 17-3-1 in its last 21.

Colorado has scored a power-play goal in each of its first two contests, going 3-for-12 (25 percent) in that span.

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