MacKinnon scores 2 to help Avalanche beat Panthers 5-3
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Nathan MacKinnon had two goals and an assist as the Colorado Avalanche beat the Florida Panthers 5-3 on Saturday night.
Logan O’Connor, Matt Nieto and Devon Toews also scored as Colorado won for the second time in five games (2-2-1). Alexandar Georgiev stopped 42 shots.
“We felt calm all night,’’ MacKinnon said. “I think even at the end there. I thought we handled that PK, the 6-on-5 really well. Just great to see. We had a lot of chances up. We were due, I thought, and we finally broke through.”
Aaron Ekblad, Sam Bennett and Aleksander Barkov scored for Florida, which snapped a three-game win streak. Sergei Bobrovsky finished with 45 saves.
Colorado took a 2-0 lead on the Panthers with goals from O’Connor and Nieto within the opening 10 minutes.
The score stayed that way until Ekblad floated a shot from just inside the blue line and through traffic past Georgiev at 7:03 of the second. It was his ninth.
Just 1:05 later, Bennett scored on a hard wrist shot from the right circle to tie it at 2 with his 14th.
Colorado regained the 25 seconds later when Toews scored on a big rebound from Bowen Byram’s shot. It was his fourth.
“I like our response after they made it 2-2 probably the best,’’ Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “I thought as the game went on (Georgiev) got better and better and the first two goals he probably wants at least one of them back. I thought we were playing a good hockey game up 2-0. … Then once they got those two and the building started going, I was getting a little nervous about what our response would be. And then right away we answer and score to get the lead again.”
MacKinnon gave the Avalanche a two-goal lead again with a power-play goal with 5:59 left in the middle period.
Barkov pulled the Panthers back within one goal at 11:03 of the third off a pass from Sam Reinhart for his 15th.
Florida thought it had tied the score on a power-play goal from Brandon Montour, but play continued as officials ruled correctly that the defenseman’s shot with 4:21 remaining struck the goal cage and never fully crossed the goal line.
MacKinnon sealed the win with an empty-netter with 58.5 seconds left for his 16th.
“We did not get the start we wanted, they dominated us in the first period,” Barkov said. “I don’t know what happened there, but we came back and played a solid game at the end. We just did not get the goal or get the win at the end.”
NOTES: The Avalanche lost D Erik Johnson to a lower-body injury in the second period. Johnson appeared to block a shot and got hit in the lower leg; he had to be helped to the dressing room and did not return. ... Barkov returned to the Florida lineup after he missed his team’s game Thursday against San Jose. Barkov blocked a shot with his hand Monday against the visiting Lightning. With Barkov returning, Florida made C Colin White a healthy scratch.
Avalanche: Host Tampa Bay on Tuesday night.
Panthers: At Minnesota on Monday night.
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