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Postgame Wrap-Up: No Moral Victories

Top line scores twice but Avalanche falls to Flames after another strong performance

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

CALGARY, Alberta--The final result was not what the Colorado Avalanche wanted for the second consecutive night, but the club still did a lot of good things it can build off of as its road trip now heads to eastern Canada.

The Avs' top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen drove the team's offense at the Calgary Flames, but it wasn't enough against the Western Conference's best team as Colorado lost 5-3 on Wednesday at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Landeskog (two assists) and Rantanen (goal and assist) each finished with two-point nights, and MacKinnon scored in a game that saw the Avalanche create plenty of offensive chances.

"The effort is there and we're doing a lot of good things and now we got to find ways to win, and that's what we're obviously trying to do every single night," Landeskog said. "It's not like we're not working out there or not trying to win hockey games. It's just not happening for us right now."

Colorado outshot Calgary 35-16 overall and kept the Flames to single-digit shot totals each period. This comes one day after losing 7-4 to the Winnipeg Jets in a contest that the Avs only allowed 21 shots against.

"We dominate both games, and we haven't been able to win," Landeskog said. "It's frustrating, but like always we got to take the positive. The effort has been there the last two nights, which is expected. We're just not finding ways to win right now. Whether it is a save at a key time or a goal at a key time. We're generating plenty of chances. Tonight we only allowed 16 shots or whatever. When you do that, you got to be able to win."

Colorado rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the first period to tie the outing going into the first intermission and made it a one-goal game late in the third period after Rantanen scored.

However, Matthew Tkachuk sealed the contest for Calgary with an empty-netter with 10 seconds left.

"I think the guys are aware that we've been pretty decent the last couple nights, but we talked about moral victories, I don't think there is any at this time of the year," Avs head coach Jared Bednar said. "You have to find a way to get results. Whatever that takes, we got to keep looking at it, keep trying and improve on a daily basis."

Landeskog finished with a career-high 12 shots on goal, which is the most by a single player in the NHL this season.

MacKinnon now has 26 markers on the season, tied for fifth in the league, and he added six shots to eclipse the 200-mark on the campaign. He leads the NHL with 204 shots this year.

Rantanen's goal was his 20th of the campaign, becoming only the second player in Avalanche history to score 20 or more times in each of his first three NHL seasons. Chris Drury (1998-99 to 2001-02) is the other Colorado player to accomplish the feat, doing so in each of his first four years.

"Mikko Rantanen I thought was really strong on the puck tonight," Bednar said. "The other two guys did a nice job too, but Mikko stood out to me tonight as being a real good playmaker, being able to skate with guys on his back and still make plays and create scoring chances."

Rantanen has 20 multi-point outings on the campaign, tied with MacKinnon and the Calgary Flames' Johnny Gaudreau for the second-most in the NHL. The Finnish forward is also second overall in league scoring with 68 points (20 goals, 48 assists).

POINT STREAKING: Each member of the Avs' top line also extended their respective point streaks on Wednesday.

Landeskog (three goals, three assists) and Rantanen (three goals, three assists) are on three-game runs, while MacKinnon now has points in eight straight contests (five goals, six assists).

For MacKinnon, these kinds of streaks have been common this season, as he's recorded points in all put eight outings this year. The most consecutive games that he has not picked up a goal or an assist was two, back on Oct. 27 and Nov. 1.

Defenseman Erik Johnson is now on a season-long, three-game point streak (one goal, two assists) after scoring with 18.4 seconds left in the first period.

O'CONNOR PLAYS AT HOME: Rookie Logan O'Connor played his first NHL game against his hometown club.

While O'Connor was born in Missouri City, Texas, the forward grew up in Calgary and played for the Calgary Royals association prior to skating in junior with the Sioux Falls Stampede of the United States Hockey League.

O'Connor's father, Myles, played 459 games of pro hockey, including 43 in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. He was playing for the Houston Aeros of the International Hockey League when Logan was born in 1996.

Logan O'Connor is in his first professional season after signing with the Avalanche as an undrafted college free agent out of the University of Denver on July 23. He made his NHL debut on Dec. 31 against the Los Angeles Kings and has appeared in each of Colorado's five games ever since.

MORE POSTGAME NOTES: Mikko Rantanen's goal in the third period gave him an NHL-leading 30 points (seven goals, 23 assists) in the final frame of regulation. Gabriel Landeskog, who registered the assist on Rantanen's tally, now has 25 points (17 goals, eight assists) in the third stanza, tied with Nathan MacKinnon (10 goals, 15 assists) for second in the league.

Landeskog, MacKinnon and Rantanen combined for Colorado's first goal of the game, the 21st time this season that all three players have factored in on the same goal.

The Avalanche is now 3-3-1 in the second game of a back-to-back set this season.

Colorado four penalty minutes matches a season low (twice, last on Nov. 24 vs. Dallas).

Matt Calvert's four hits matches a season high (also on Oct. 20, 2018 at Carolina).

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