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Maple Leafs hand Avalanche rare home loss

Corey Masisak, The Denver Post on

Published in Hockey

DENVER — Tyler Bertuzzi scored a hat trick, including a power-play goal with 2:51 remaining, to help the Toronto Maple Leafs become only the sixth team to beat the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena this season.

Mikko Rantanen, who had tied the score earlier in the third period, was in the penalty box when Bertuzzi scored the winner in a 4-3 victory Saturday for the Maple Leafs.

The Avs had won six in a row at home, and are now 22-6-0 here this season. Nathan MacKinnon, who had three assists, had one final chance just before the buzzer, but Toronto goalie Ilya Samsonov made the save.

Rantanen tied this contest with his 30th goal of the season 4:41 into the third. His long-range shot from the top of the offensive zone came after a pass from MacKinnon and with Artturi Lehkonen providing a screen in front.

Rantanen became the first Avalanche player to score 30-plus goals in four consecutive seasons since the franchise moved to Denver from Quebec City.

MacKinnon needed an assist on an empty-netter in the 60th minute to keep his season-long home point streak intact. He got that out of the way Saturday with a pair of first-period assists to help stake the Avs to a 2-0 lead.

Lehkonen scored a power-play goal 2:16 into the contest. MacKinnon wound up like he was going to hammer a one-timer from the left flank on a pass from Cale Makar, but instead sent the puck toward Lehkonen near the top of the crease for a redirect.

It was Lehkonen’s fifth goal in the past six games after he had three in his first 18 contests this season. It was also Makar’s first point in eight games, breaking the longest slump of his NHL career.

Andrew Cogliano made it 2-0 midway through the first period. Rantanen put the puck out in front of MacKinnon near the team benches, and he blew by Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly before setting up Cogliano for a one-timer at 11:07. It was Cogliano’s fifth of the year, and a second against the Maple Leafs for the Toronto native.

 

The Avalanche dominated this game at even strength for the first 34 minutes, but Bertuzzi scored a power-play goal late in the first period and then evened the score on a rebound attempt with 5:15 remaining in the second.

Colorado had three or four excellent chances to extend its lead to 3-1 during the second period. The Avs had a 22-8 advantage in scoring chances, per Natural Stat Trick, before the Maple Leafs broke out of the Colorado zone on a 3-on-2 that led to the second Bertuzzi goal.

Mitch Marner gave Toronto its first lead a little more than two minutes after the second Bertuzzi goal. The Avalanche got caught without a natural center on the ice because Rantanen had replaced Ross Colton just before they iced the puck.

Toronto won the ensuing faceoff, and 33 seconds later Marner’s shot from the top of the zone beat Alexandar Georgiev to make it 3-2.

Footnotes

The Avs placed forward Fredrik Olofsson on waivers Saturday afternoon. He has played in 55 of the 59 games for Colorado this season, but was a healthy scratch Thursday night in Detroit. The club also announced that prospect Oskar Olausson, a first-round pick in 2021, will have season-ending shoulder surgery. Olausson has 11 goals and 20 points in 39 games for the Colorado Eagles in the AHL this season.

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