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game recap

MacKinnon scores twice in Avalanche win against Sabres

Varlamov makes 30 saves, Rantanen has three assists for Colorado

by Heather Engel / NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO -- Nathan MacKinnon scored two goals for the Colorado Avalanche in a 6-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Thursday.

MacKinnon has scored in each of Colorado's first four games, which is tied for the second longest streak to begin a season in Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques history (Mats Sundin, five in 1992-93).

 

[WATCH: All Avalanche vs. Sabres highlights]

 

"I think I can play better than I am," MacKinnon said. "I'm just putting them in right now, but I think, overall, it hasn't been the easiest year so far. Our line's gotten better, like we played last season, but it's nice to score some goals."

Tyson Jost, Colin Wilson, Carl Soderberg and Alexander Kerfoot scored, Mikko Rantanen had three assists and Semyon Varlamov made 30 saves for Colorado (3-1-0).

"I know the guys were excited to play tonight and bounce back and rebound from the other night (5-2 loss to Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday), and I thought we cured that," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "Great first period. We were skating, checking hard, arriving in D-zone coverage and finishing checks off."

Nathan Beaulieu scored, and Carter Hutton made 24 saves for the Sabres (2-2-0). Rasmus Dahlin, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, got an assist for his first NHL point.

Jost gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead on the power play at 10:55 of the first period when he redirected Tyson Barrie's shot from the point. Wilson made it 2-0 at 13:20 after he got a rebound in the slot and beat a screened Hutton on the power play.

Video: COL@BUF: Wilson buries power-play goal from the slot

Colorado has scored a power-play goal in each of its first four games for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

"The [second] unit's been really good and tonight, for the first time, our unit got some chances," MacKinnon said. "Overall, we need two units going and it's nice that those other guys can get going right now."

Soderberg extended the Avalanche lead to 3-0 at 16:30 with a shot from the left circle off a pass from Gabriel Bourque.

"We weren't crisp, and I thought all year we've been really dialed in and really ready to go, everybody's been focused," Sabres forward Kyle Okposo said. "Tonight, it was just a little bit feeling a little bit good about ourselves I think."

Beaulieu cut it to 3-1 at 17:05 of the second period on a shot from the point that snuck past Varlamov. MacKinnon scored 28 seconds later on a one-timer from the left circle to make it 4-1.

Video: COL@BUF: MacKinnon buries crafty dish from Rantanen

Kerfoot beat Hutton on a breakaway to make it 5-1 at 15:23 of the third period, and MacKinnon scored his second of the game on a breakaway at 17:01 to extend the lead to 6-1. 

"Those last two goals, they irritated me," Sabres coach Phil Housley said. "Just the way Carter Hutton's been playing, we went down a road where we were making some poor decisions, which we hadn't done in the last two games. So that rubbed me the wrong way and I'm sure it rubbed those guys in the locker room, too."

 

They said it

"I feel like he's just kind of starting to hit his stride. A handful of points through a handful of games, I hadn't felt like we had seen his best. I thought the second period the other night in Columbus, he really started to take off. He gained some confidence from that. He's hungry to succeed and he came out and had a big night for us tonight." -- Avalanche coach Jared Bednar on Nathan MacKinnon

"We still have a team that's learning to win. If there's anything we can take out of it, [it's] that we can't take anything for granted and everybody's got to be pulling on the rope each and every day, especially in our games. It was a good, valuable lesson to learn tonight." - Sabres coach Phil Housley

 

Need to know

Colorado is 5-for-15 on the power play this season. … Barrie had two assists. … Sabres forward Jason Pominville played in his 664th regular-season game with Buffalo, tying Mike Foligno and Ric Seiling for 10th in team history.

 

What's next

Avalanche: Host the Calgary Flames on Saturday (10 p.m. ET; CBC, SN1, CITY, ALT, NHL.TV) 

Sabres: At the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday (9 p.m. ET; FS-A, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

Video: MacKinnon, Rantanen propel Avalanche to 6-1 win

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