In winning fashion Wednesday night, Nathan MacKinnon reached a Hall of Fame-backed milestone with his 50th point of the second, becoming just the third Avalanche player to produce 50 points in three consecutive seasons.
Only club legends Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg had done that before, with Sakic (1998-2002) and Forsberg (1995-99) — both enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame — doing it in four straight campaigns.
MacKinnon had a second assist in the third period to close the door on the New York Islanders in a 3-1 victory at the Pepsi Center.
MacKinnon now has 84 points, tied with Boston’s David Pastrnak for second in the NHL. Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl has a league-high 95 points.
Against old friend Semyon Varlamov, the Russian goalie who played the previous eight seasons in Colorado, the Avs got goals from Joonas Donskoi midway through the first period and Andre Burakovsky early in the second and took a 2-0 lead into the third.
Then the Avs shut the door on the defensive-minded, low-scoring Islanders at 7:43 of the final frame when Gabe Landeskog redirected a shot by MacKinnon past Varlamov. New York’s Brock Nelson scored a late goal as the Islanders avoided the shutout.
The Avs climbed within a point of St. Louis and Dallas, both with 76, atop the Central Division and Western Conference standings. Colorado has played one fewer game than the Blues and Stars in a tight race for division and conference supremacy.
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The Avs, who got a terrific 27-save effort from goalie Pavel Francouz, also snapped a three-game losing streak (0-2-1) and finished 2-2-1 on a five-game homestand.
The injury-depleted Avs played their second game without injured goalie Philipp Grubauer, who is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury. They were also without injured key forwards Mikko Rantanen, Nazem Kadri and Matt Calvert, who are are out through this month and probably longer.