VANCOUVER– Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist for the Colorado Avalanche in their fourth straight win, 4-1 against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Friday.
Nathan MacKinnon had two assists and extended his point streak to seven games, and Alexander Georgiev made 28 saves for the Avalanche (24-17-3), who have outscored opponents 21-5 during their winning streak after going 1-6-1 in the previous eight.
“We’re just playing our style,” Colorado forward Andrew Cogliano said. “We’re getting up the ice a lot quicker, guys are much more predictable, and it seems like we’re defending less and playing more in their end. We got guys like [Valeri Nichushkin] and Mikko and ‘Nate,’ and when they get zone time, they turn the tide of the game and they’re tough to handle and it just seems like our pace of our game is a lot higher.”
Elias Pettersson scored, and Collin Delia made 25 saves for the Canucks (18-24-3), who have lost six of seven and nine of 11.
“It kind of seems like the mindset and the mood got to us tonight,” Vancouver defenseman Tyler Myers said. “You can tell guys are down. It’s not easy times right now; there’s a lot going on. We’ve got to find a way to stay positive and keep working.”
Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau got emotional about his uncertain future earlier in the day, and Myers admitted widespread speculation about a potential coaching change and possible trades has affected the players.
“I think tonight was the first time it showed for our group that things might be starting to affect some of us,” Myers said. “It’s a long season, a lot of time and you might have days like that, but you can’t keep having days like that.”
Cogliano gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead at 11:32 of the first period with a quick shot from the right hash mark over Delia’s glove. Alex Newhook won a battle for the puck along the boards with J T Miller and made a quick centering pass to Cogliano.
Colorado extended the lead with two 5-on-3 goals in the second period. Playing a second straight game without top defenseman Cale Makar because of an upper-body injury, the Avalanche used five forwards on the two-man advantages.
“It’s putting our most talented guys out there,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “[We’re] used to having a righty (shot) up there in Cale, so we decided to give it a try. They made some plays [and] it worked out.”
Nichushkin made it 2-0 on a 5-on-3 power play 34 seconds into the second when his one-touch shot from the top of the crease deflected in off Myers’ skate.
It was the first goal since Oct. 25 for Nichushkin, who has only played 11 of 37 games since then because of injury.
“[It’s] huge the kind of impact that he has on our team,” Bednar said. “It’s nice to see him get rewarded for his hard work.”
Rantanen extended the lead to 3-0 at 10:32 on another 5-on-3 power play when MacKinnon’s one-timer went wide of the net but bounced out to the other side, stranding Delia and leaving Rantanen with an empty net from a sharp angle.
“Mikko has ramped up his work ethic here game by game and he’s found a way to make a difference,” Bednar said. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence again.”
Pettersson made it 3-1 at 12:32, deking to his backhand in tight after being left alone at the top of the crease.
brad hunt scored on a one-timer from just inside the blue line at 19:27 of the second for the 4-1 final.
“It’s hard to win games if we’re all going to chase the game,” Pettersson said. “But I know this team, we don’t quit, and we don’t quit for Bruce either.”
NOTES: MacKinnon has 699 points (255 goals, 444 assists) in 671 NHL games, one point from becoming the sixth Avalanche player with 700 points, and the first player selected in the 2013 NHL Draft to reach that milestone. He has 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) during his seven-game point streak. … Colorado forward JT Compher has one goal and four assists during a three-game point streak. … Canucks forward Bo Horvat has his point streak end at nine games (four goals, six assists).