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Colorado's Top Line Leads the Way in San Jose

The Avs' trio of Landeskog, MacKinnon and Namestnikov combined for eight points in San Jose

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele / ColoradoAvalanche.com

SAN JOSE, Calif.--While a number of the Colorado Avalanche's regular forwards are recovering from injuries, head coach Jared Bednar has shuffled his lines around and it appears he has found some chemistry.

The Avs combined Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon with Vladislav Namestnikov on their top trio against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night and the line combined for Colorado's first three goals of the game. At the end of the contest, the threesome had totaled eight points (three goals, five assists) to help the Avalanche earn a 4-3 win at SAP Center.

"I mean it was a competitive game again. I loved our pace, I thought we were skating real well. I thought they skated real well, especially considering it was a back-to-back," Bednar said. "It was pretty up and down, had some physicality to it, and I thought our big guys had a real good night. Our top line tonight was outstanding, and they end up scoring three goals, one on the power play. We will take it. I like the two points and I liked our effort."

Video: COL@SJS: Namestnikov puts Avalanche back on top

Namestnikov, who scored and added an assist for his first multi-point game in Colorado, was acquired by the Avalanche at the NHL's trade deadline on Feb. 24. He has been skating with Landeskog and MacKinnon for the past few games and he has recorded five points (three goals, two assists) in seven total games with the Avs.

"He had a couple big blocks there in the first period [on] Brent Burns and those hurt, it looked like he was limping a little bit after that, but he battled through and it was good to see him getting on the board too," Landeskog said of his new teammate. "He has been fitting in really nicely and we also know he has got some skill, but he works hard. Skill alone isn't going to get you anywhere in this league, you need to work hard and that is what he is doing, and it's been fun playing with him so far."

Landeskog and MacKinnon each scored and added two assists, and both skaters have collected more than one point in each of the team's last three outings. Landeskog has now scored in three consecutive games and is on an eight-game point streak, one short of his career long. During the stretch, the Avalanche captain has totaled 13 points (five goals, eight assists).

Video: COL@SJS: Landeskog cleans up after MacKinnon dangle

Landeskog now has 198 career goals and needs two more to become the seventh player in franchise history and fourth in Avalanche history to reach 200 career goals. Joe Sakic (391), Milan Hejduk (375) and Peter Forsberg (202) are the only Colorado players to do so. 

For MacKinnon, it was his 29th multi-point game of the season, setting a new career high (28 in 2018-19). He ranks tied for second in the league with the Boston Bruins' David Pastrnak for the most multi-point outings in the NHL this year (Edmonton's Leon Draisaitl leads with 33). It's the most such performances by an Avalanche player since Peter Forsberg had 29 in 2002-03.

MacKinnon's two helpers improved his season total to 58 assists on the year, tying his career high that he set in each of the past two campaigns. 

Video: COL@SJS: MacKinnon hammers one-timer for PPG

WELCOME BACK TO SAN JOSE, JOONAS

In his first game against his former team, an organization he spent the previous four seasons with, Joonas Donskoi scored his second game-winning goal of the year.

"It was weird, first time in my career playing against an old team, I have never had that experience before," Donskoi said postgame. "I am sure some extra nervousness I'd say maybe, and a lot of familiar faces on the ice against us tonight so it was a new experience for me. It was fun to see, there was still a lot of my signs from the fans so that was good to see, and it was a special night."

Video: COL@SJS: Donskoi scores in return to San Jose

Donskoi was selected by the Florida Panthers in the fourth round (99th overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft but signed with San Jose as a free agent in May 2015. He appeared in 283 career NHL games with the Sharks, recording 122 points (45 goals, 77 assists). The Raahe, Finland, native also dressed in 50 career playoff contests and notched 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists). 

In his first year with Colorado, he has set a new career high with 16 goals and his 33 points are four shy of his career high for a single season, 37 that he set last campaign.

BACK-TO-BACKS END MONDAY

Colorado will wrap up its 12th and final back-to-back set of the season on Monday at the Los Angeles Kings.

The Avs finished 9-3-0 in the first game of consecutive-night sets in 2019-20 and are 6-4-1 in the second half.

Colorado has swept more than half (six) of its 11 back-to-backs this year, and it swept each of its last three back-to-backs--the first time the Avalanche has swept three straight such sets since October 2009.

MORE AVALANCHE NOTES

The Avalanche earned its 24th road win of the season, the most road victories in the NHL in 2019-20 and tied for the second most in franchise history (26 in 2013-14).

Colorado is 8-1-1 in its last 10 games and 16-4-2 over its last 22 contests.

Pavel Francouz made 22 saves and picked up his 20th victory of the year.

Erik Johnson notched an assist and now has six points (two goals, four assists) in his last six outings.

J.T. Compher had two assists to record his seventh multi-point game of the season.

The Avalanche is 2-0-0 against the Sharks this year, and the teams will conclude their three-game season series at Pepsi Center on March 17.

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