Rantanen scores twice, Avalanche cool off Golden Knights 3-0

Feb 27, 2023, 6:49 AM | Updated: 9:55 pm
Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen, right, hugs left wing J.T. Compher after scoring as V...

Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen, right, hugs left wing J.T. Compher after scoring as Vegas Golden Knights right wing Michael Amadio skates past in the first period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

              Vegas Golden Knights right wing Phil Kessel, left, shoots as Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, right, defends in the second period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Vegas Golden Knights right wing Michael Amadio, center, is checked by Colorado Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram, right, as Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen comes in to collect the puck in the second period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev, right, makes a stic-save against a shot by Vegas Golden Knights right wing Phil Kessel (8) in the first period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Adin Hill stops a shot in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche, Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Colorado Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram, left, shoots as Vegas Golden Knights center Jack Eichel defends in the first period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen, right, hugs left wing J.T. Compher after scoring as Vegas Golden Knights right wing Michael Amadio skates past in the first period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) — Mikko Rantanen knew his goal was quick to start the game.

“Was it 5 seconds in?” he inquired.

Not quite that quick.

Rantanen scored twice, including 14 seconds into the game, and Alexandar Georgiev stopped 31 shots to help the Colorado Avalanche beat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-0 on Monday night for their sixth straight win.

Rantanen reached the 40-goal mark in a season for the first time in his career. His quick score tied for the seventh-fastest goal to start a game in Avalanche history.

“It’s nice to start the game like that,” said Rantanen, whose father was in attendance from Finland.

Nathan MacKinnon added an empty-net goal with a shot from his own end with 3:27 remaining. He extended his points streak to eight straight games.

The reigning Stanley Cup champions are rounding into form as they climb up the standings. The Avalanche finished February with a 7-1-2 record, making this the 26th month in a row the team has gone .500 or better. It matches the franchise record set from March 1994 to February 1998.

“We’re currently in the best stretch of hockey we’ve played this year,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “It’s also the best lineup that we’ve had all year long, with the guys getting healthy.”

Georgiev posted his third shutout of the season and first since Dec. 19 against the New York Islanders.

Ivan Barbashev played 16:40 in his Vegas debut after being acquired as part of a deal with St. Louis on Sunday. He began on a line with Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault.

Adin Hill had 31 saves for the Golden Knights, who lost in regulation for the first time since Jan. 27. They’re now 6-1-3 over their last 10 games.

“For whatever reason, we just didn’t play well,” Vegas defenseman Alec Martinez said.

Rantanen’s 40th goal of the season came on a liner in the second period off a cross-ice pass from J.T. Compher. By reaching 40 goals in 58 games, Rantanen became the fastest Colorado player to hit the mark since the franchise moved to Denver in 1995-96. He broke the mark held by Joe Sakic, who reached 40 goals in his 65th game in ’95-96.

“I’m not going to celebrate (40 goals) too much tonight,” Rantanen said. “More more about the win and the two points. … If you start thinking about those (individual marks) too much, you go away from the team game and I don’t want to do that.”

Rantanen got things rolling before some fans were even settled into their seats. He capitalized on a miscue from Hill, who tried to fling the puck deep from behind the net. Rantanen batted it down and lined it in. He’s scored in five straight games.

“We obviously spot them a goal — that never helps,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It was our best 10 minutes right after that; we actually played pretty well and generated some looks and looked like we could get ourselves back in the game. But it didn’t happen.”

JACK’S BACK

Defenseman Jack Johnson rocketed up the standings in being dealt from a struggling Chicago team to the contending Avalanche on Sunday. Johnson helped the Avalanche to a Stanley Cup championship last season.

“I’m just trying to be a piece again, like last year — help out as much as I can,” Johnson said.

CAPTAIN UPDATE

Avalanche GM Chris MacFarland didn’t divulge his level of concern for the return of captain Gabriel Landeskog, who’s been sidelined all season with a knee injury.

“He’s doing everything he can to get back,” MacFarland said.

AROUND THE ICE

Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (head) skated Monday with the team in a red noncontact sweater. … D Kurtis MacDermid remains in concussion protocol. … Vegas forward Phil Kessel was called for an illegal check to the head of Colorado’s Andrew Cogliano in the second period. … Colorado coach Jared Bednar turns 51 on Tuesday.

UP NEXT

Golden Knights: Start a three-game homestand Wednesday against Carolina.

Avalanche: Host New Jersey on Wednesday night.

___

AP NHL: www.apnews.com/hub/NHL and www.twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]
27 days ago
Joe Jarzynka...
Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]
27 days ago
FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...
Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]
27 days ago
Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...
Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]
27 days ago
FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...
Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]
27 days ago
FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...
Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]
27 days ago
Rantanen scores twice, Avalanche cool off Golden Knights 3-0