Avalanche routs St. Louis 8-0 behind MacKinnon line, five power-play goals – The Denver Post
Jared Bednar’s decision to reassemble the Avalanche’s top line on Friday probably led to better results than the coach could have hoped. His move led to a blowout victory over a rival and his three best forwards reaching major milestones or closing in on one.
Center Nathan MacKinnon and wingers Gabe Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen were electric at Ball Arena, combining for four goals and seven points as Colorado used that and five power-play goals to smash St. Louis 8-0 to salvage a split of the two-game series to begin the season.
“We know that it works when they’re together,” Bednar said of MacKinnon and his two preferred wingers. “We experiment at times with spreading those guys and try to make us tougher to play against. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
This time, it bulldozed the Blues.
After a scoreless first period, Landeskog scored the first and third goals, Rantanen the fourth and MacKinnon the sixth.
St. Louis was outshot 24-11 after two periods and 38-21 for the game. It had to be embarrassing for the 2019 Stanley Cup champions who allowed MacKinnon’s line to produce 13 shots and ultimately chase goalie Jordan Binnington when the third period began.
Landeskog’s two goals gave him 200 for his NHL career and made him just the second member of the 2011 draft class to reach that milestone. Rantanen scored a power-play goal for his 100th goal — making him the fourth player from the 2015 draft class to reach that number.
MacKinnon, who had a goal and two assists, is now just two points from reaching 500 in his career and joining Joe Sakic, Milan Hejduk and Peter Forsberg as the only Avalanche players to do so in Burgundy and Blue.
“It was a pretty lopsided score but it was definitely a tough first period,” MacKinnon said of the Avs’ first victory. “I think we had to break them down and we did that in the first. We kind of wore on them. It was great. The power play got clicking and it was great to see a lot of guys feeling it and chip in.”
Forwards Andre Burakovsky, Nazem Kadri, Joonas Donskoi and Devon Toews also scored for the Avs, and superstar defenseman Cale Makar had three assists.
Bednar began the season Wednesday with Landeskog on the second line with center Kadri and newcomer Brandon Saad, and the line was minus-9 in the Blues’ relatively easy 4-1 victory. But Landeskog swapped with Burakovsky and the MacKinnon line once again looked like one of the league’s most dominant.
“Game 1 was not good and it wasn’t good from a lot of different aspects,” Bednar said. “Those three guys — Landy, Mac, Mikko — are the leaders of our hockey team and if we’re going to challenge guys on our team it’s going to be those guys because of their status. We put them together and give them the best opportunity to lead our hockey club and that’s exactly what they did.”
The second line was better, too, and the Avalanche as a whole played like the Stanley Cup favorite it is. That included the power play. The goals by Burakovsky, Rantanen, Kadri, MacKinnon and Toews came on the man-advantage, and Colorado finished 5-of-7.
Goalie Philipp Grubauer made 20 saves in his 12th career shutout. He enjoyed watching his team dominate in front of him.
“Incredible to watch from back there,” Grubauer said. “Definitely a big step up from the first game. It (stunk) losing that first game but I think we learned a lot and I think we needed that. So totally opposite. I don’t even know when the Blues had control of the game. We were firing on all cylinders here and that’s the standard we need to keep all year.”
Footnotes. MacKinnon had five shots and now has a shot in 222 consecutive games, the second-longest in club history to Sakic’s 227 from 1995-99. MacKinnon has led the NHL in shots in each of the last two seasons — with 318 in 2019-20 and 365 in 2018-19. … The Blues’ Sammy Blais began a two-game suspension for a check to Toews’ head on Wednesday. He was replaced by late free-agent addition Mike Hoffman. … The Avalanche will take Saturday off before practicing Sunday and Monday. Colorado begins a four-game trip Tuesday at Los Angeles. The Avs play the Kings twice and the Anaheim Ducks in two consecutive games.