LOS ANGELES (AP) Mikko Rantanen is off to another quick start for the Colorado Avalanche.
The Finnish forward became the third player in NHL history to have at least four points in consecutive season openers, leadingg the Avalanche to a 5-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night.
Rantanen had two goals and two assists, joining Peter Stastny (1987 and '88) as the only players in Avalanche/Nordiques history to accomplish that feat. Syd Howe also accomplished it for Detroit in 1943 and '44.
“Just excited I guess. I missed some of camp so I was just excited to play," Rantanen said. "Playing with good players helps also.”
Rantanen, who finished third in the league last season with a career-high and franchise-record 55 goals, missed the final week of training camp due to a lower body injury. He was healthy though in time for when the games started to count for real.
Rantanen's linemates also had strong openers. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and two assists while defenseman Cale Makar had a goal and an assist.
“They came out skating right away and created a bunch," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said about his top line. "They got a little stubborn with the puck at times through the neutral zone. But they’re also able to make a bunch of nice plays and create a bunch of scoring chances so they get a little bit more leeway in those areas than others. And when the game moved into the third period, they were really disciplined with the puck.”
Miles Wood also scored for the Avalanche, who have won 12 straight regular-season road games dating to last season. Alexandar Georgiev stopped 35 shots.
Los Angeles' Carl Grundstrom and Quinton Byfield had second-period goals. Cam Talbot made 31 saves in his Kings debut.
“I think territorially it was fairly even. I thought what they did better than us was commitment to finishing things," coach Todd McLellan said. "And then offensively, they went and got pucks and tipped pucks, and we didn’t do that.”
Rantanen gave Colorado a 3-0 lead and completed a run of two goals in 53 seconds at 3:47 of the second period when he beat Talbot top shelf on a wrist shot from a tight angle inside the left faceoff circle that went in near the far post.
After the Kings got within a goal, Rantanen gave the Avalanche breathing room at 4:59 of the third period when he redirected Jack Johnson's shot from the blue line and into the net.
“We had a good chat in the second intermission to stay on the gas,” Rantanen said. "I think the third might have been one of our best periods. We were solid both ways and didn’t give up a lot.”
QUITE A DEBUT
Kings forward Alex Laferriere showed in his NHL debut that he isn't going to be a pushover.
The 21-year old Laferriere held his own in a fight with Colorado's Logan O’Connor during the second period, which provided one of the biggest highlights of the night.
Byfield got the Kings to 3-2 with four seconds left in the second period when he chased down the loose puck after the faceoff and scored. Byfield tried to pass to Adrian Kempe, but the pass deflected off Makar’s stick and into the net.
Avalanche: At San Jose on Saturday night.
Kings: Host Carolina on Saturday night.
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl
Copyright 2023 STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.