DENVER (AP) — Nathan MacKinnon scored the tiebreaking goal with 10:58 remaining, Semyon Varlamov made 20 saves and the Colorado Avalanche rallied past the Boston Bruins 6-3 on Wednesday night in a showdown between two of the top scoring lines in the league.
MacKinnon sent a wrist shot by Jaroslav Halak after receiving a pass from Mikko Rantanen as the Avalanche rallied from a two-goal, second-period deficit. Colorado scored four goals in the third, with Tyson Jost and Alexander Kerfoot also scoring after Matt Calvert tied it earlier in the period.
Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog had goals as well.
Colorado’s top unit of Landeskog, MacKinnon and Rantanen combined for six points to give them a league-leading 75 for the season.
Right behind them, the Bruins’ top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak contributed a goal and two assists to run their season total to 71 points.
Jake DeBrusk scored twice for the Bruins in the opener of a four-game trip. Halak finished with 19 saves.
Defenseman Zdeno Chara suffered a lower body injury in the first period and didn’t return. He got tangled up with Carl Soderberg and looked to favor his left leg. The Bruins were down to five defensemen.
Calvert tied the score at 3 early in the third when he banked in a shot off the skate of a Bruins defenseman. It set the stage for MacKinnon, who used his speed to get ahead of the defense and knock in his 12th goal.
Trailing 5-3 late, Boston pulled Halak and the Avalanche sent a pass the length of the ice. David Krejci turned in one of the saves of the game by racing back and knocking the puck away just before ramming his body into the net.
Both teams scored power-play goals in the second — DeBrusk to give Boston a 3-1 lead and Rantanen to trim the deficit.
Colorado led 1-0 midway through the first after Landeskog scored off a backhanded pass from Rantanen. The Bruins hit three posts in the period, but found the net on a tip-in from Pastrnak and 2:37 later DeBrusk cruised in all alone and juked Varlamov for a goal. The breakaway was set up by a turnover from MacKinnon.
Boston and Colorado were looking forward to this matchup, given the offensive firepower of the top lines. Each coach vowed to pit them against each other as often as possible.
They did, too.
“It’s a good motivating factor for MacKinnon’s line and for Bergeron’s line to sort of want to put a stamp on being the best one,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said.
MacKinnon and Marchand know each other quite well. Both are from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and sometimes skate together in the offseason. But they work out separately.
“Nate can’t keep up. He’s got to work out with someone else,” Marchand joked. “He’s an incredible player — very hard to play against.”
NOTES: Boston G Tuukka Rask served as a backup. He missed the last two games as he took a leave of absence for personal reasons. ... Colorado coach Jared Bednar said he’s hoping to soon work F J.T. Compher (concussion) into some contact practices.
Bruins: Stop No. 2 on their four-game trip is Friday in Dallas.
Avalanche: Host the Washington Capitals on Friday.