MacKinnon hat-trick leads Avs to 53rd win, 9-3 over Kings

DENVER (AP) — Nathan MacKinnon had three goals and two assists, Nicolas Aube-Kubel scored twice in a dominant first period and the Colorado Avalanche set a franchise record with their 53rd victory, beating the Los Angeles Kings 9-3 on Wednesday. .

Valeri Nichushkin added two goals, Cale Makar had a goal and three assists, Andre Burakovsky also scored and Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves for the Avalanche, which was leading 4-0 before the game reached 11 minutes.

Colorado won their seventh straight and improved to 53-14-6, surpassing the 2013-14 and 2000-01 teams with the most wins. The Avalanche also moved two points ahead of Florida for the best record in the NHL and has a franchise-best 29-4-3 record at home.

“The crowd was singing even before the anthem started,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “You can feel that when you go on the bench as a coach, as a player, they are into it and they are going to be full of energy. And we wanted to make sure we went out there and played a really good game after a couple of byes in Winnipeg and Edmonton.

“I think our guys feel that and that’s why our record is so good at home.”

Adrian Kempe, Alex Iafallo and Phillip Danault scored for the Kings, who have lost four of five. Jonathan Quick allowed three goals on 10 shots before being pulled while starting consecutive nights for the first time in more than four years. Cal Petersen allowed six more goals on 25 shots.

LA held onto a third-place playoff spot in the Pacific Division but sits just three points ahead of Vegas, which has two games in hand.

“Definitely not the performance you want tonight, especially this time of year,” Kings captain Anze Kopitar said. “But we have to look at this and put things right and make sure this doesn’t happen again, because this is a pivotal moment for our team.”

The schedule did the Kings no favors. They won in Chicago 5-2 on Tuesday night and arrived in Denver early Wednesday to play high while the Avalanche had been out since Saturday.

And Colorado opened with relentless pressure and crisp passes that overwhelmed the tired LA. Aube-Kubel scored 2:54 and Nichushkin scored 39 seconds later. MacKinnon scored on the power play and Aube-Kubel scored 41 seconds after that to make it 4-0 with 9:04 left in the first period.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, right, battles for control of the puck with Los Angeles Kings center Adrian Kempe in the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Denver.

“We can put earrings on a pig if we want to, but that’s not going to make things any better,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said in a 55-second postgame news session. “That was horrible and we moved on. We have the chance to play more games, so it’s good for us and we have to be better”.

Kempe scored his 33rd goal early in the second and Iafallo made it 4-2 with a shot just inside the blue line at 10:40 of the second. But the Avs stabilized things when MacKinnon fed Burakovsky in the high fringe at 13:05.

MacKinnon scored on a breakaway off Makar’s extended pass early in the third period and scored his third career hat-trick with 10:08 left to make it 9-2.

Fans chanted “We want 10!” in the final minutes, but had to settle for a season-high nine goals for Colorado.

“I didn’t want to score,” Aube-Kubel said with a smile. “There were no hats left.”

MacKinnon added: “I think nine is enough.”

NOTES: Avs rookie Bowen Byram assisted on the first two goals in his fourth game after being sidelined for nearly three months with concussion issues. … Makar’s goal was the 60th for Colorado defensemen, the most in the NHL since Washington (62) in 1993-94. … Avs coach Jared Bednar hopes captain Gabriel Landeskog (knee surgery) will return to play a game or two before the playoffs. … Quick started back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 18-19, 2018. He last played on back-to-back nights Feb. 9-10 of that same season. … Nichushkin became the seventh Colorado player with 20 goals. … The Avs signed undrafted college free agents Ben Meyers (Minnesota) and Wyatt Aamodt (Minnesota State).


Kings: Host Columbus on Saturday night in the first of five straight games against teams out of playoff contention.

Avalanche: At home Thursday night against New Jersey, whose 24 road regulation losses are the most in the NHL. The Avs are 7-1-1 in the second straight game.


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