DENVER (AP) —
Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 Sunday night for their 10th straight win.
Nazem Kadri and Gabriel Landeskog also scored for Colorado, which tied the second longest win streak in franchise history and matched Pittsburgh for the longest in the NHL this season. Valeri Nichushkin added an empty-netter with 1:03 left to play and Darcy Kuemper had 30 saves as the Avalanche got their 18th straight home win. “I’ve learned that we’re a resilient group, pretty consistent,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “There were some games where we weren’t perfect, but we’ve found different ways to win with different guys chipping in, which good teams do. It’s been an amazing month from our guys.”
Colorado’s home winning streak is the fifth longest in NHL history. Detroit has the longest, taking 23 in a row from Nov. 5, 2011 to Feb. 19, 2012. “It’s fun winning for sure,” Kadri said. “It’s pretty exceptional when you look at the history of the Avs; they’ve had some pretty good teams, so we’re humbled by that. That being said, I think it’s not (having) too many complacent guys in the dressing room. I feel like everyone feels that we can still be a little bit better. We’re finding our game. Obviously, momentum is a huge key and we hope to continue that.”
Dylan Cozens scored for Buffalo, which has lost its last six meetings with the Avalanche. Dustin Tokarski, who was activated earlier from the non-roster list, had 32 saves. “I loved our battle, our compete,” said Sabres coach Don Granato, whose team has been hit hard by injuries and illness in recent weeks. “They never quit. I told our guys they probably deserved better tonight. It’s just the way it goes but they should feel good about how they competed.”
Tokarski made his first appearance in the net since late November after dealing with a bout of COVID-19 and working his way back into playing shape over the last month.
“It worked out nicely to get back. It was a lot of fun out there,” Tokarski said. “The staff, the coaches did a good job of integrating me and obviously the timing was good too with our situation, to be out there and to compete with the guys.”
Kadri’s goal at 11:15 of the second gave Colorado a 2-1 lead. Tokarski stopped a shot by Dylan Sikura but the rebound trickled away from the Buffalo goalie and Kadri put it in from up close.
Rantanen made it a two-goal advantage for the Avalanche by beating Tokarski with a power-play goal from the center of the right circle with just under seven minutes remaining in the period.
The Avalanche got on the board at 7:49 of the first. Rantanen dug out a loose puck from the corner and passed to the slot where Landeskog was positioned to tap the puck into the net. It was Landeskog’s 19th of the season and third in two games.
Cozens evened the score at 1-1 at 2:37 of the second.
NOTES: Avalanche C Nathan MacKinnon remains sidelined with a concussion and facial fracture suffered last Wednesday against Boston. He’s not expected to return to action until at least mid-February, meaning he also will miss the All-Star game. Nashville D Roman Josi is slated to replace MacKinnon on the All-Star roster. … The Avalanche and Sabres meet for the second and final time this season on Feb. 19 at Buffalo. … Colorado is 15-0-1 since Jan. 1. … Buffalo was 0 for 4 on the power play.
Sabres: At Vegas on Tuesday night to finish a four-game trip.
Avalanche: Host Arizona on Tuesday night.