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MacKinnon gets assist to extend point streak to 18 games, Avs cruise to 4-1 win over Coyotes

DENVER (AP) — Nathan MacKinnon extended his point streak to 18 games with an assist, Alexandar Georgiev stopped 24 shots and the Colorado Avalanche cruised to a 4-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night.
Bowen Byram opened the scoring in the first period before Colorado pulled away in the second behind goals from Valeri Nichushkin, Josh Manson and Fredrik Olofsson.
“The second period is a template of how we should and want to play,” said Avalanche coach Jared Bednar, whose team has won three of four heading into the NHL’s holiday break. ”Might have been our most complete period of the year.”
MacKinnon’s 18-game point streak is the second-longest for Colorado since the franchise relocated from Quebec to Denver in 1995-96. He trails only Paul Stastny, who compiled a 20-game run in 2006-07.
It was also MacKinnon’s 25th point in December. He’s three away from matching the franchise record for a single month set by Peter Stastny in February 1981. Colorado still has three games left this month.
Alex Kerfoot scored on a power play with 3:04 remaining to spoil Georgiev’s shutout bid. Connor Ingram made 22 saves for the Coyotes, whose four-game winning streak was halted.
“They are the measuring-stick team in our division,” said Kerfoot, who played two seasons with Colorado. “If we want to be a team who competes for playoff spots, these are the types of teams that we need to bring our best efforts against.”
Colorado turned up the intensity in the second period and ran away with the game. MacKinnon got the offense going by sending a backhand, cross-ice pass to Nichushkin, who knocked it in for his 16th goal of the season.
With his assist, MacKinnon has at least one point in all 18 home games this season. It’s the longest season-opening home point streak in Quebec/Colorado history. Wayne Gretzky has the longest home point streak to start a season in NHL history with 40 straight games for the Los Angeles Kings in 1988-89.
“He does it all, right?” Bednar said of MacKinnon. “He’s executing at a high rate.”
Byram gave Colorado a 1-0 lead midway through the first period with his first goal since Dec. 2. Colorado’s defensemen have a league-leading 27 goals this season.
“It was a lot of fun tonight to play like that,” Byram said.
Coyotes defenseman J.J. Moser took a hard hit from Miles Wood in the second period and didn’t return due to an upper-body injury. Arizona coach André Tourigny had no update after the game.
“I think there were a few incidents without the puck, which I didn’t like,” Tourigny said of the physical play, which included a fight between Wood and Lawson Crouse. “But at the end of the day, I don’t think they’re predators on the other side. I think they play hard. They’re a hard-working team. I have a ton of respect for them.
“For us, if we didn’t like it, we just have to push back out there. It’s not after the game making comments about it. If you don’t like it, you need to do it during the game.”
The Avalanche have two players who recently returned to practice.
Forward Artturi Lehkonen, sidelined with a neck injury since early November, has started skating in a red non-contact jersey. Defenseman Samuel Girard was cleared Friday to resume practice after receiving care from the player assistance program. Girard last month cited anxiety and depression leading to alcohol abuse as the reason for entering the program.
UP NEXT
The Avalanche and Coyotes play again Wednesday in Arizona.
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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

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