DENVER (AP) Nathan MacKinnon delivered in a big way for a depleted lineup.
“Great win,” MacKinnon said. “Look at our roster there. We’ve got a lot of pretty good players out.”
The Avalanche rolled out a mixture of line combinations with Cale Makar (lower body), Andrew Cogliano (lower body) and Valeri Nichushkin (sickness) all sidelined.
Kurtis MacDermid stepped up and scored early in the first and Logan O’Connor made it 3-0 in the third. The Avalanche were cruising toward a win before the Ducks staged their comeback bid.
Sam Carrick scored a short-handed goal and Leo Carlsson added a power-play goal with 5:49 remaining in the third to make it 3-2. The Ducks pulled goaltender John Gibson for an extra skater with under a minute remaining, but couldn't tie it up.
“We keep doing this. We wait to get behind, I don’t know what’s going on psychologically, but it’s too late,” first-year Anaheim coach Greg Cronin said. “Everybody praises us for coming back but to me it’s just kind of silly hockey, right? Why isn’t that there in the beginning of the game?”
Alexandar Georgiev finished with 31 saves for Colorado. MacKinnon’s two assists gave him 500 for his career. He became the fourth player in franchise history to reach the milestone, joining Joe Sakic, Peter Stastny and Peter Forsberg.
“It’s pretty cool,” said MacKinnon, who was the first overall pick by Colorado in 2013. “I always like to take pride in seeing guys and play-making.”
Gibson made 27 saves for the Ducks, who have lost nine of 10.
The Ducks had a 5-on-3 advantage with 6:49 remaining when Fredrik Olofsson drew a penalty for tripping and MacDermid for roughing. After Carlsson's goal, the Avalanche withstood the rest of the Anaheim advantage.
“There was that feeling that we can come back here. Just kind of ran out of time,” Carrick said.
Bowen Byram took a big hit to the chest in the second period from Anaheim forward Max Jones. O’Connor didn't take kindly to the hit to Byram, who has a concussion history, and drew a roughing call for going after Jones.
Byram didn't return for the third period with what the team called an upper-body injury. Jones didn't return, either, due to an upper-body injury.
MacDermid scored his second goal of the season 1:40 into the opening period. Known more for his physical play, he now has scored in two straight games that’s he’s skated in. In between MacDermid’s last score, though, on Nov. 24 at Minnesota, have been five contests where he didn’t play.
Avalanche coach Jared Bednar tried to retool his lines in a way where there was a mix of offensive skill and workmanlike effort.
“You knew it wasn’t going to look anything close to what we’d normally have once those guys went out," Bednar said. “So giving some guys some opportunities.”
Cronin knows the Avalanche and their recipe for winning well. He was the coach of the Avalanche’s AHL affiliate, the Colorado Eagles, from 2018-23.
“We’ve taken our systems or injected what they did here (in Colorado) into what we do in Orange County - with a couple wrinkles,” Cronin said before the game.
It was the third and final meeting of the season for the two teams. The Avalanche finished 2-0-1 against the Ducks.
Ducks: At Chicago on Thursday.
Avalanche: The second of a five-game homestand will be Thursday against Winnipeg.
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