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Colorado's top line scores 4 in 5-1 win over Minnesota

By DENNIS GEORGATOS Associated Press

DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen combined for four goals, and the Avalanche beat Minnesota 5-1 Thursday night, snapping the Wild’s five-game winning streak.

Rantanen scored twice for the Avalanche, getting his second at 6:30 of the third period on a backhand shot. Joonas Donskoi also scored for Colorado, finishing a breakaway with his eighth goal of the season at 1:57 of the third. Philipp Grubauer made 19 saves.

Victor Rask scored for Minnesota, which found itself on the defensive throughout the game. Colorado outshot the Wild 55-20. “Tonight was a pretty good night,” Rantanen said. “We were snapping the puck, and that’s what we have to do, move the puck a lot and get it to the net. My linemates obviously help a lot. I’m playing with two great players (Landeskog, MacKinnon), so that’s the first thing you need to remember. Also I think I’m shooting a little bit more this year.”

The Avalanche were on the attack offensively from the outset, outshooting the Wild 25-6 in the first period and scoring twice. They were also buoyed on the defensive end by the return of Cale Makar and Bowen Byram. Both defensemen were returning from upper body injuries after missing 10 and nine games, respectively. “I thought our guys came out hungry and skating and in attack mode trying to get it,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “It was a real nice all-around effort.”

MacKinnon got the Avalanche on the board at 11:10 of the first, lifting a knuckling shot from between the circles that dropped into the net past goalie Cam Talbot. With less than a minute to spare in the period, Rantanen put Colorado up 2-0, knocking the puck into the net from up close off a cross-ice pass from Samuel Girard.

Minnesota pulled to within one when Rask scored on a power play at 8:41 of the second. But that was offset at 15:07 of the period when Landeskog put in his own rebound, slapping the puck into the net as he fell forward onto the ice in a power-play score. Minnesota’s Matt Dumba did not return after sliding hard into the boards during the second period. .

Minnesota and Colorado meet again on Saturday at Denver’s Ball Arena. The teams have met five times this season, with Colorado holding a 3-2 edge. “It was a tough game,” defenseman Jonas Brodin said. “I thought right from the start we didn’t have the legs or the hands. It was just one of those games where nothing works. We’ve got to be a lot better next game. Got to watch video tomorrow and then come back on Saturday and have a way better game.”

NOTES: The Colorado Department of Health and Environment has cleared the way for a limited number of fans to attend Avalanche home games at Ball Arena. Under the guidelines, a total of 4,050 fans will be allowed to attend beginning on April 2, when the Avs host the St. Louis Blues. It will be the Avs first game in front of home fans since March 11, 2020, when they played the New York Rangers. … Wild defenseman Carson Soucy was scratched to serve his one-game suspension for a charging infraction on Arizona forward Conor Garland. … Colorado C J.T. Compher missed a seventh game since sustaining an upper body injury March 5 against Anaheim. But he is making good progress and could return in the coming days. … It was just the ninth time in 28 games that the Wild had been held under three goals,

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