The Colorado Avalanche is down another player after Mikko Rantanen left Monday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning with an upper-body injury after crashing into the boards.
Rantanen likely won't be back until March as he will miss "weeks," Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said following the team's 4-3 overtime loss to the Lightning at Pepsi Center.
The forward's night was cut short at 7:18 of the second period after he was tripped up by Tampa Bay's Erik Cernak while skating with the puck, falling into the boards with his body. He was able to leave the ice on his own power but didn't return to action.
Rantanen is fourth on the team in scoring with 41 points this season (19 goals, 22 assists) and is one goal away from 100 in his NHL career. He had the primary assist on the opening tally of the game by Andre Burakovsky at 4:49 of the first period for his 250th career point.
The right wing's injury adds to the club's growing list of training room participants from the past eight days, which already included Nazem Kadri (lower body), Matt Calvert (lower body) and Philipp Grubauer (lower body). In addition, Colin Wilson is out indefinitely after having two surgeries earlier this season after suffering his own lower-body ailment.
"I think every team is going through it a little bit," Bednar said of the club's recent injury bug. "You start racking them up with Grubauer, Kadri, Calvert and now Mikko. Other guys got to step up, it's a great opportunity."
Like Rantanen, Calvert and Kadri are expected to be out for the next several weeks, while Grubauer's recovery timeline likely won't be known until later this week. Kadri was hurt on Feb. 9 at the Minnesota Wild, while Calvert and Grubauer were unable to finish Saturday's Stadium Series outdoor contest versus the Los Angeles Kings.
Video: Bednar on Rantanen's injury after the game vs. TBL
Rantanen already missed 16 games earlier this season with a lower-body injury from Oct. 25 to Nov. 29. It was during a stretch in November where it seemed like the Avs were accruing a new injury every game, and as soon as one player got healthy, another one would go down.
The Avs have 148 man-games lost this season to injury or illness, and Bednar expects his club to battle the adversity like it did earlier in the year. Despite the rotating injuries in the last two months of the 2019 calendar year, Colorado still went 14-4-1 from Nov. 7 to Dec. 18.
"We have to find a way to carve out wins like we did earlier in the year," Bednar said. "It's going to get tougher and tougher, but hopefully we can get those guys healthy and back to join our team as soon as possible. Guys are going to get opportunities and call-ups. More ice time for guys who have been here and want more ice time and see what they got."
The Avalanche carved out a point against the Lightning, as it rallied from a two-goal deficit in the second period to force overtime and gain a point in the standings. Nikita Kucherov tallied on a breakaway to end the game with less than two minutes to play in the extra period.
While Colorado hasn't gained the full two points since the first outing of this five-game homestand against the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 11, Bednar was pleased with his club's effort against one of the hottest teams in the NHL. Tampa only has three losses since Dec. 23 and is now on an 11-game winning streak, a new franchise record.
"This one, we were the team digging in and going after them in the third period. So to me it's different," Bednar said when comparing the club's recent three losses. "We didn't win the game, we dug ourselves a bit of a hole, but we played hard start to finish. We made some mistakes, I can live with us making a few mistakes here and there. I just don't like being outworked or outcompeted in areas and losing a hockey game."
The Avalanche wraps up its five-game home stay in Colorado on Wednesday against the New York Islanders before playing back-to-back games in Southern California over the weekend.
MACK KEEPS CLIMBING
Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist and is now tied for the second-most points in the NHL this season. His 33 goals and 49 assists give him 82 points on the year, the same amount as the Boston Bruins' David Pastrnak.
MacKinnon has recorded at least one point in 47 of the 58 games he's played this season. Only Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers has more with him doing it 49 times.
The Avs center now has 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) in 14 career games against the Lightning.
MAKAR TIES ASSIST RECORD
Cale Makar assisted on Valeri Nichushkin's tying goal in the third period and has now tied the franchise record for the most assists by a rookie defenseman.
Makar's 31 helpers are the most by an Avs first-year rear guard since Bruce Bell also registered that total while a member of the Quebec Nordiques in 1983-94.
The Avs first-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft already holds franchise rookie defenseman records for goals (11) and points (43) in a campaign. He ranks second among first-year players in scoring, two points behind Vancouver Canucks D-man Quinn Hughes.
Video: TBL@COL: Nichushkin deflects in Makar's shot
MISKA CALLED UP
One week after signing his NHL contract with the Avalanche, goaltender Hunter Miska was in the team's uniform as the backup goaltender for the outing against the Lightning.
Miska had been guarding the pipes in the American Hockey League for the Colorado Eagles this year, but he was doing so on an AHL-only contract. He signed his NHL deal on Feb. 10.
"It's an exciting time for me. I didn't expect this coming into the season, but obviously I had it in my mind that this was my main goal, to get back to an NHL contract," Miska told ColroadoEagles.com following morning skate. "I was pretty fired up at the beginning of the season to work hard and earn my contract back."
This year, Miska has posted a 13-5-2 record, 2.62 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in 22 games with the Eagles and has a 1.62 goal-against average, .947 save percentage and a 2-1-0 record in three ECHL contests with the Utah Grizzlies.
The Avalanche concluded its two-game season series against Tampa Bay, finishing 1-0-1 against the Lightning.
Colorado is now 1-2-1 through four games of its current five-game homestand. The Avs are 8-3-1 over their last 12 games and have collected points in 11 of their last 14 contests (8-3-3).
Gabriel Landeskog tallied two assists to bring his career total to 252 and move past Matt Duchene (250) for sole possession of seventh place in assists since the club moved to Denver in 1995.
Landeskog's 10 faceoff wins matched the second-most of his career (fourth time, last Jan. 8, 2019 at Winnipeg).