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MacKinnon, Trenin help Avalanche rally past Predators 7-4 to clinch playoff berth

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DENVER (AP) —

Nathan MacKinnon had two goals and two assists,, Yakov Trenin got the go-ahead goal against his former team, and the Colorado Avalanche rallied to beat the penalty-prone Nashville Predators 7-4 Saturday night to clinch a playoff spot.

Cale Makar had a goal and two assists, Jonathan Drouin added a goal and an assist, and Casey Mittelstadt and Artturi Lehkonen also scored to help Colorado get a win after two straight losses. “I thought we played a really good game against one of the best teams in the league,” MacKinnon said. “That’s a tough team to play against and we did a great job.”

Alexandar Georgiev allowed four goals on 13 shots before he was pulled less than a minute into the second period. Justus Annunen came on and stopped all 17 shots he faced the rest of the way to get the win that sent Colorado to the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season. “That’s the goal, right?” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “Getting to the playoffs, give yourself a chance. It just shows the dedication, the hard work that all the guys are putting into every season and trying to keep improving from the season before. Yep, feels good.” Cole Smith, Mark Jankowski, Dante Fabbro, and Gustav Nyquist had goals for Nashville, which lost for a second time since seeing its franchise record 18-game point streak snapped in Thursday’s 8-4 loss at Arizona. Kevin Lankinen finished with 35 saves. “We played pretty good to be honest with you,” Nyquist said. “I think 5-on-5 especially, we made it tough on them. We created enough to probably score a couple more. Obviously, special teams, that’s kind of where we lose the game. They get a few on the power play. We don’t. ”

Three of the Colorado goals came on the power play as the Avalanche beat the Predators for the first time in three meetings this season while reaching the team 100-point milestone for the third consecutive season, a franchise first. Nashville, however, went 0 for 5 on the power play. “We gave them too many opportunities,” Predators coach Andrew Brunette said. “Obviously, we did some OK things but the power play was no good, either.”

The Predators stretched their lead to 4-2 less than a minute into the second period when Nyquist beat Georgiev with a wrist shot at the end of a 2-on-1 break. A frustrated Georgiev was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct after the play and replaced by Annunen.

Colorado scored the next three goals to surge in front. The flurry began with a power-play goal by Lehkonen at 5:43 after a major penalty and game misconduct was called on Ryan McDonagh for banging his shoulder into the face of Colorado’s Ross Colton, who skated off the ice dazed and in pain. He returned to the ice late later in the third period.

Makar banged in a goal off the post with 1:35 left in the second to even the score at 4-all and just over a minute later, Trenin — acquired as part of a March 7 trade with Nashville — gave the Avalanche their first lead of the game when he picked up a loose puck between the circles and wristed a shot past Lankinen.

MacKinnon, who saw his 35-game home points streak snapped in Thursday’s shootout loss to the New York Rangers, gave the Avalanche a two-goal lead at 3:38 of the third, and added an empty-netter for his 47th of the season with 3:50 remaining.

The teams combined for five first-period goals, with the Predators scoring twice in a 41-second span on scores by Jankowski and Fabbro to move in front 3-1 with 6:17 remaining in the period. The Avs pulled within one on a power-play goal by Mittelstadt with 3:49 to go as he poked the puck into the net underneath Lankinen’s glove.

UP NEXT

Predators: Host Boston on Tuesday night.

Avalanche: At Columbus on Monday night.

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AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL

By DENNIS GEORGATOS
Associated Press

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