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Rantanen steps up, helps Avalanche advance in playoffs

Forward missed final eight games of regular season, had nine points in first round against Flames

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- Mikko Rantanen didn't need to answer any questions regarding his health after the Colorado Avalanche eliminated the Calgary Flames in five games in the Western Conference First Round. 

His performance said enough. 

Rantanen, who missed the final eight games of the regular season because of an upper-body injury, led all players with nine points (five goals, four assists), including three points (two goals, one assist) in a 5-1 win in Game 5 on Friday to close out the best-of-7 series.

 

[WATCH: Avalanche vs. Flames Game 5 highlights | Complete series coverage]

 

"I mean, Mikko's been one of the best players in the League all year," said Nathan MacKinnon, who had eight points (three goals, five assists) in the series. "He had a great season. It's unfortunate he got hurt right at the end there, but he came back and he looked amazing and he dominated. It's so nice to have a guy like that on your team.

"It's tough to come back in the playoffs, Game 1. I think he worked out all the rust and then he lit it up ever since. He was amazing."

Video: COL@CGY, Gm5: Rantanen blasts one-timer for PPG

After being held without a point in Game 1, a 4-0 loss, Rantanen had four consecutive multipoint games, one shy of tying the Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques record set by Peter Stastny (1982) and Peter Forsberg (1997, 1999 and 2002).

"I mean, that's Mikko for you," Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "He's in really good shape and injuries happen in this game, but to be able to come back like he has is pretty impressive. And to step into the playoffs like that? It's not easy to do. He's been a force. We've seen him be a force for two years now in this League, and especially this season. 

"Now, he's taken it to a different level. It's good to see."

Rantanen's most pivotal performance came in Game 4.

After he tied the game on a late redirection power-play goal, Rantanen completed the comeback on a one-timer inside the left post off a cross-ice pass from Carl Soderberg at 10:23 of overtime to give Colorado a 3-2 win. 

"When you get hurt at the end of the year, you also get some rest," Rantanen said. "Obviously, it sucked. It's not fun to be hurt, but you have to find some positive things and maybe one thing is that I got rest and felt good coming back. The medical team did a good job to get me ready to play in this series. 

"Great team effort in all five games. 4-1. That tells the story."

Video: Avs' top line rolls over the Flames in series victory

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