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game recap

Avalanche top Rangers for ninth straight win

MacKinnon, Johnson each has goal, assist, Bernier makes 27 saves

by Rick Sadowski / NHL.com Correspondent

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche won their ninth straight game, 3-1 against the New York Rangers at Pepsi Center on Saturday.

 

[WATCH: All Rangers vs. Avalanche highlights]

 

It's the second longest streak in Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques history; Colorado won 12 games in a row from Jan. 10-Feb. 7, 1999. It hasn't trailed during the streak and has outscored opponents 37-14.

Nathan MacKinnon, Erik Johnson and Mikko Rantanen each had a goal and an assist, and Jonathan Bernier made 27 saves for Colorado (26-16-3), which swept a three-game homestand and is 14-3-1 in the past 18 games. Bernier has won an NHL career-best eight straight starts, allowing 11 goals.

Video: NYR@COL: Bernier preserves one-goal lead late in 2nd

"It's fun," MacKinnon said. "It's fun to share this with everyone, we're a real close locker room. Everyone has really accepted their role, which is really important for a winning team. Things are loose, but we are still intense, it's a good balance we have right now.

"We can't get comfortable, we are only in the (Stanley Cup Playoff) mix now. I think we are in a playoff spot right now, but that's why we are fighting every night because we need these points. It's so tight."

Pavel Buchnevich scored, and Henrik Lundqvist made 34 saves for the Rangers (24-18-5).

Video: NYR@COL: Buchnevich tips Zuccarello's dish for PPG

"They had really good speed to their game," Lundqvist said. "They're feeling it right now, there's no question. Their top guys are playing really well and make a difference for them. They're a quick team, their transition game is really good. They play a lot off the rush. I really liked the way we battled. We worked really hard against a really good team that has a ton of confidence right now."

The Avalanche scored first for the ninth consecutive game on Johnson's seventh goal for a 1-0 lead at 9:00 of the first period. Rantanen passed from the top of the right circle through the slot to Johnson for a tap inside the left post.

Video: NYR@COL: Johnson finishes Rantanen's nice feed

MacKinnon put the Avalanche ahead 2-0 at 3:24 of the second period, one minute after Lundqvist made a glove save against Alexander Kerfoot on a breakaway. MacKinnon skated from left to right and beat a lunging Lundqvist to the glove side for his 23rd goal. It was the fifth straight game he's scored.

"I was looking to pass and I didn't see anything," MacKinnon said. "I just got to the middle of the ice and tried to use some bodies as a screen, keep it low. I'm not really picking a spot there, just trying to get it through."

It was MacKinnon's seventh game-winning goal this season. He ranks second in the NHL with 59 points, two behind Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"If I was feeling pressure (to carry the load) I don't think I'd be producing like this," MacKinnon said. "Gabe (Landeskog) and Mikko and everyone else makes it really easy. I think we're top three or four in the League scoring, and that's not just from me, it's from everybody. When Bernier is playing as well as he is, it takes a lot of pressure off us to score."

The Rangers got to within 2-1 at 6:55 of the second on a power-play goal by Buchnevich, who deflected in Mats Zuccarello's shot for his 13th goal.

Rantanen scored an empty-net goal with less than one second remaining in the third to make it 3-1.

"Our guys are hungry to keep it going," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "It means a lot to them and it's showing in their play and what they're saying to each other on the bench. I'm really happy with what I'm seeing right now."

 

Goal of the game

MacKinnon's goal at 3:24 of the second period.

Video: NYR@COL: MacKinnon rips a shot past Lundqvist

 

Save of the game

Bernier's save on Buchnevich with 1:12 left in third period.

Video: NYR@COL: Bernier shuts down Buchnevich late in game

 

Highlight of the game

Lundqvist's save on Kerfoot at 2:25 of the second period.

Video: NYR@COL: Lundqvist robs Kerfoot on breakaway attempt

 

They said it

"The way things went last year, I think the easy thing to say would have been, 'It's not working here, let's go somewhere else, let's jump ship.' The character guys and the core guys in this room said we want to figure things out here in Colorado and make it work." -- Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson

"Even though they got quite a few shots, the chances on both sides weren't very high, 10-11 range. There were good looks on both sides, the goaltenders did what they had to do, and at the end of the night, they got one more than we did." -- Rangers coach Alain Vigneault

 

Need to know

MacKinnon has 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) during a nine-game point streak. He has 18 multipoint games this season. ... Bernier's eight-game winning streak is the longest by an Avalanche goalie since Patrick Roy won 11 straight from Jan. 12-Feb. 7, 1999. ... Buchnevich has four points (two goals, two assists) during a three-game point streak. ... Colorado also won nine straight games from Oct. 10-28, 2000.

 

What's next

Rangers: At the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday (10:30 p.m. ET, SN1, FS-W, MSG, NHL.TV)

Avalanche: At the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday (7 p.m. ET, TVA Sports, SNO, ALT2, NHL.TV)

Video: MacKinnon, Rantanen lead Avs to ninth consecutive win

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