DENVER -- Nathan MacKinnon had two goals and an assist to help the Colorado Avalanche defeat the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 at Pepsi Center on Monday.
"We wanted to take over tonight," MacKinnon said. "I had a lot of really good looks. I wanted to be aggressive and I'm not sure how many shots I finished with, but definitely enough to score. We need to continue this aggressive play. We need to take care of these home games. We're good here. We feel it."
Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist, and Semyon Varlamov made 31 saves for the Avalanche (33-24-5), who are 11-1-0 in their past 12 home games and trail the Los Angeles Kings by two points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.
[WATCH: All Canucks vs. Avalanche highlights]
Daniel Sedin scored, and Jacob Markstrom made 25 saves for the Canucks (24-32-7), who are 3-8-1 in their past 12 games.
"I talked to the team. I don't usually after games, but I was happy with how we played," Canucks coach Travis Green said. "This might have been our best game on the trip. It's a fine line winning and losing in this league. We're not a team that scores easy, we know that, but we had some good effort tonight."
MacKinnon scored into an empty net with 44.7 seconds left in the third period to make it 3-1.
Sedin made it 2-1 when he got a rebound and scored from a sharp angle below the left face-off circle at 18:44.
Video: VAN@COL: D. Sedin buries wrist shot past Varlamov
MacKinnon gave the Avalanche a 2-0 lead at 7:52. He skated by Canucks defenseman Troy Stecher and scored from low in the left face-off circle with a wrist shot that went under Markstrom's right arm short side.
"He's really fast and he's shifty too," Markstrom said. "He's probably the one who puck-handles the most from backhand to forehand. Most guys can skate really fast and push the puck forward, but he can stick-handle at full speed. He was shooting high all night and then the low shot kind of beat me. It surprised me. I was a little off angle. It's unfortunate when it's a tight game."
Vancouver's Jake Virtanen shot off the right post moments before MacKinnon's goal.
"It would have been nice," Virtanen said. "We definitely have to bury those on the breakaway. It's tough to see them go back down the other way and score."
The Avalanche took a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal from Rantanen with 24 seconds left in the first period. MacKinnon passed cross-ice to Rantanen for a one-timer from the right circle that beat Markstrom glove side.
"It wasn't hard to tell early in the game that MacKinnon was going to be flying and I thought Mikko had a real strong game too," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "As a line, those guys created a lot of chances. They had one called back, hit a post or two, scored a couple goals. Really good night. It's exactly what we needed from those guys."
Video: VAN@COL: Varlamov denies two power-play attempts
Rantanen appeared to score at 11:10 of the second period, but Green challenged for goalie interference, and the goal was overturned after video review.
"We just have to go day by day," MacKinnon said. "You don't want to get too ahead of yourself. We need to win a lot of hockey games to get into the playoffs."
Goal of the game
MacKinnon's goal at 7:52 of third period.
Video: VAN@COL: MacKinnon buries shot from tough angle
Save of the game
Varlamov's save on Bo Horvat at 3:05 of third period.
Video: VAN@COL: Varlamov denies Horvat's wrister in tight
Highlight of the game
Rantanen's goal at 19:36 of first period.
Video: VAN@COL: Rantanen cranks home one-timer for PPG
They said it
"I liked the way our whole team played tonight. We had four lines going and we were better defensively than we were in some of the recent games on the road." -- Avalanche coach Jared Bednar
"All games are important for us right now and we can't really let anything slide for us at this point. It doesn't matter if your opponent is in or out of a playoff spot, we just need to make sure we take care of business." -- Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog
"Good effort for sure. I'm starting to like how we are playing. If we play like this, even though you're tired, you're going to stay in games." -- Canucks forward Daniel Sedin
Need to know
Canucks forward Loui Eriksson was scratched because of an upper-body injury. … The Canucks acquired forwards Jussi Jokinen and Tyler Motte in a trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets for Thomas Vanek. ... MacKinnon has an NHL-leading 49 points (20 goals, 29 assists) in 28 home games. ... Blake Comeau played his 700th NHL game.
Canucks: Host the New York Rangers on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; SNP, MSG, NHL.TV)
Avalanche: Host the Calgary Flames on Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET; SN360, ALT, NHL.TV)
Video: MacKinnon, Varlamov lead Avalanche to 3-1 victory