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Postgame Wrap-Up: Rantanen Sets New Career Highs in Comeback Win

Avalanche forward had three points in overtime victory against Red Wings

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

When the Colorado Avalanche trailed twice in the third period against the Detroit Red Wings, forward Mikko Rantanen helped his club re-tie the contest each time.

In overtime, Rantanen was once again key in completing the comeback as he assisted on Nathan MacKinnon's game-winning goal that gave the Avs a 4-3 win at a sold-out Pepsi Center against an old rival on Tuesday night.

Rantanen finished with a goal and two assists and set new career highs for helpers and points in a season. He now has 29 goals, 56 assists and 85 points in 67 games on the year after producing 29 goals, 54 assists and 84 points in 81 outings during his sophomore NHL campaign in 2017-18.

"I thought Mikko had a great third period," said Colorado head coach Jared Bednar. "He was a huge part in getting us back into the game. We're going to use him in overtime, and they end up making a play."

The Nousiainen, Finland, native's three-point performance marked the 10th time this season that he has recorded three or more points in a contest.

For Rantanen and the rest of the Avs, their mindset is to take care of their own business in the remaining games and make the postseason for the second straight year. After Tuesday's results, Colorado moves into ninth place in the conference with 70 points, two behind the Minnesota Wild for the second wild-card spot in the West. The Dallas Stars, the Avalanche's next opponent, hold the first wild-card position with 73 points.

"It doesn't matter what happened in the past. It's the 15 games we have left. A good season is to get into the playoffs," Rantanen said when reflecting on his campaign to this point. "If we don't, I don't think that is a good season. We have a lot of games left, 15 games left, so we have to keep going and try and help the team."

Rantanen did his part in leading Colorado's comeback charge in the third period by tying the game at 2-2 with a backhand shot at 8:30. The tally came on the power play and marked his 14th with the man advantage this year, tied for sixth-most in the league with fellow Finn Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets.

Video: DET@COL: Rantanen backhands home rebound for PPG

After the Red Wings retook the lead with 2:17 remaining, Rantanen again delivered. Just 42 seconds after Detroit's power-play goal, he fed a pass to Tyson Barrie, who found twine with a one-time shot from the blue line.

The right wing's second assist of the night sent the fans home following a breakout in overtime. Rantanen brought the puck into the Detroit zone and then dropped it off to MacKinnon, who found the back of the cage at 2:29 with a wrister from the mid-slot.

Video: Rantanen after the overtime victory against Detroit

"Nate did a good job of laying off, not driving to the net, just stay back," Rantanen described of the goal. "His shot from there, he's not going to miss many of those. It was a big one."

Bednar reunited the line of Rantanen, MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog for the outing, and the trio combined for two goals and four assists, all of which came in the final 20-plus minutes.

"It got a little bit crazy there," Bednar said of the third period. "We stuck with it. It wasn't always pretty, but we found a way to get the job done. It was a little worrisome after the too many men penalty. We trailed, but we found a way. Guys did a nice job. Our top guys did a nice job of finding the back of the net in the third period."

BARRIE TIES IT: Tyson Barrie's game-tying goal in the third stanza was his 68th career marker, tying John-Michael Liles for second place on the franchise's all-time list for a defenseman. Only Sandis Ozolinish has scored more as a blueliner in Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques history with 72 goals.

Video: DET@COL: Barrie ties game with blistering one-timer

"Part of what he has to do is drive our offense, and he's been doing a nice job on the power play," Bednar said of Barrie. "I think he's been doing a decent job 5-on-5. He's up and involved in the rush. He's got a shot mentality. He's getting some pucks to the net, he's doing all the things that he needs to do to help drive the offense."

The Victoria, British Columbia, native is already the franchise leader for points (294) and assists (226) by a rear guard after setting those marks earlier this season.

Barrie also assisted on Rantanen's power-play tally earlier in the third stanza, making Tuesday his ninth multi-point outing of season. It was also his 21st point on the man advantage this season, tied for the second-most in a campaign during his eight-year career.

MACK FINISHES IT: Nathan MacKinnon's overtime goal was his first of the season and the sixth of his NHL career. It was also his fifth game-winning tally of the campaign.

"I just saw the scouting report, and it said high-glove was a common place to score a goal on Bernie (Detroit goalie Jonathan Bernier)," MacKinnon said of his 34th marker of the year. "I just shot it. I wasn't aiming for the post or anything, it just found the right spot. I think it kind of went by his ears, so it was an awkward spot to put his hand. It's exciting to finally win one in OT."

Video: DET@COL: Rantanen backhands home rebound for PPG

It was MacKinnon's first overtime goal since Feb. 20, 2018 at the Vancouver Canucks and second of his career versus Detroit (Nov. 19, 2017). Colorado has won two straight contests that have gone past regulation (shootout victory on last Wednesday against Vancouver).

MacKinnon ranks fourth in Avalanche history (since 1995-96) with 34 career game-winning goals and is one behind Peter Forsberg for third place on the list (35).

Video: MacKinnon after scoring the OT winner vs. Detroit

ROCKING DETROIT: The Avalanche wrapped up the two-game season series against the Red Wings, winning both contests after also picking up a 2-0 victory on Dec. 2 at Little Caesars Arena.

Colorado has won four straight games against Detroit after also sweeping the season series last year. It's the first time that the Avs have won four consecutive contests against the Red Wings since moving to Denver in 1995.

The franchise last accomplished the feat when the Quebec Nordiques won five straight versus Detroit from March 17, 1981 to Oct. 20, 1982.

The Avalanche is 8-3-0 in its last 11 games against the Wings. Tuesday's outing marked the 125th all-time meeting between the two franchises.

MORE POSTGAME NOTES: The Avs went 1-for-3 on the power play, scoring a man advantage goal for the fourth consecutive game. Colorado has notched a power-play goal in seven of its last eight outings, going 8-for-29 (27.6 percent) over the span.

J.T. Compher notched his 15th goal of the season and has seven points (three goals and four assists) over his last eight outings.

Carl Soderberg registered his 22nd assist of the season, his most since the 2015-16 campaign (39). Soderberg has recorded nine points (three goals, six assists) in Colorado's last eight contests.

The Avalanche has picked up points in each of its last five home contests, going 4-0-1.

Colorado is now 14-9-6 against the Eastern Conference this season and has gone 7-4-2 at home against opponents from the East.

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