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game recap

Avalanche recover against Coyotes, gain in Western wild-card race

Win in shootout after Ekman-Larsson ties it in final minute for Arizona

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

MacKinnon's nifty shootout goal

ARI@COL: MacKinnon shows off hands on SO goal

Nathan MacKinnon goes to his backhand to beat Darcy Kuemper and give the Avalanche an advantage in the shootout

  • 00:25 •

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche gained in the Western Conference wild-card race with a 3-2 shootout win against the Arizona Coyotes at Pepsi Center on Friday.

Colorado (36-29-13), which has won two straight and is 6-0-1 in its past seven games, leads the Coyotes by three points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. With the win, the Vancouver Canucks were eliminated from playoff contention.

"The guys are pushing, we're pushing, and trying to earn a playoff spot," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "The guys are hungry."


[WATCH: All Coyotes vs. Avalanche highlights]


Philipp Grubauer made 42 saves, and Nathan MacKinnon and Derick Brassard each scored a power-play goal.

"A little bit more interesting then we needed it to be, but it was good," Grubauer said. "Huge two points."

Video: ARI@COL: Landeskog feeds MacKinnon for PPG

Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored twice, and Darcy Kuemper made 25 saves for Arizona (37-33-8), which has lost six of its past seven games. 

With the Coyotes' loss, the St. Louis Blues and Vegas Golden Knights each clinched a berth in the playoffs.

"You can figure out the math," Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. "We needed two (points), but we got one to stay alive. Four games are left, and we need every point and every bit of help from other teams. We didn't give up. Oliver did a great job of getting us back in the game."

Ekman-Larsson cut it to 2-1 at 12:00 of the third period on a shot from the left point before tying it at 19:09 on a shot from the left circle that beat Grubauer five-hole after Kuemper had gone to the bench for the extra skater.

"We got back in the game by competing," Ekman-Larsson said. "I got the goals that gave us a chance. We said that we have to keep working hard and that's all we can do and maybe we'll get back in the game. That's what we did, and I think that could be a huge point at the end of the day. So we'll take that one and move forward and hopefully get in the playoffs. It's going to be a little bit harder now."

The Coyotes outshot the Avalanche 20-7 in the third period.

"They threw more pucks at the net and that's their system and it worked for them in the third period, but I didn't think we gave up a lot," Bednar said. "We have to find a way to continue to push and create offensively in the third period when we're leading."

MacKinnon gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead at 13:37 of the second period, taking a pass from Gabriel Landeskog that went through the legs of Coyotes defenseman Jason Demers before chipping a shot over a sprawling Kuemper.

Landeskog was playing his first game since March 7 (nine games) because of an upper-body injury.

Brassard made it 2-0 at 19:26, getting to a loose puck at the right hash marks with a delayed penalty against Coyotes forward Richard Panik.

"They have a good penalty kill, so we were ready for pressure," MacKinnon said. "They're first in the League on the penalty kill (entering the game) and we did a great job on the power play. It's nice to have [Landeskog] back. He makes really good plays, he kind of settles things down. Obviously, great to have him back."

MacKinnon scored the only goal of the shootout in the first round.

"It was a little bit closer than we wanted it to be," Grubauer said. "We need to stay on the gas a little bit in the last period. It's quite a bit loud in here going into the last period with a lead and we were giving up a lot of shots. But on the other side, we're doing a great job defending, too."

Video: ARI@COL: Brassard rips wrister on power play


They said it

"Special teams play was big, and we lost the special teams battle (Arizona was 0-for-3 on the power play; Colorado was 2-for-4). Our mood hasn't changed all year. We finish the season with four more games and at this point, we need all eight points." -- Coyotes forward Nick Cousins

"We're doing different things on different nights to win hockey games. We're getting contributions from our whole lineup. Especially with the injuries, guys are stepping up and taking on bigger roles and excelling in those roles. It's a team game and we're playing like that right now. There's no selfishness in our room, it's all team first." -- Avalanche coach Jared Bednar


Need to know

Grubauer is 6-0-1 in his past seven starts with a .957 save percentage and one shutout. … MacKinnon has 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in his past 12 games. … Avalanche forward Alexander Kerfoot had an assist and has five points (one goal, four assists) in a four-game point streak. … Ekman-Larsson has four points (three goals, one assist) in his past four games.


What's next

Coyotes: Host the Minnesota Wild on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; ESPN+, FS-A PLUS, FS-WI, FS-N+, NHL.TV)

Avalanche: At the St. Louis Blues on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN)

Video: MacKinnon, Grubauer propel Avalanche to SO win

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