SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog each had a goal and two assists and Colorado’s top line overwhelmed the San Jose Sharks in a 4-3 victory for the Avalanche on Sunday night.
“I thought our big guys had a really good night,” coach Jared Bednar said. “Our top line tonight was outstanding. They end up scoring three goals, one on the power play. We’ll take it.”
MacKinnon and Landeskog scored the first two goals for the Avalanche and then set up Vladislav Namestnikov for the go-ahead score midway through the second period to give Colorado its 10th win in its past 11 road games.
Former Sharks forward Joonas Donskoi added a goal in the third and Pavel Francouz made 22 saves to keep the Avalanche two points behind St. Louis in the race for first place in the Central Division with a game in hand.
“It’s going to be fun down the stretch no doubt,” Landeskog said. “That’s our goal, to chase those guys down.”
Joe Thornton, Melker Karlsson and Noah Gregor scored for the Sharks, who lost their third straight game to end a six-game homestand. Martin Jones made 20 saves.
“It’s frustrating,” forward Kevin Labanc said. “We all want to be winning, we all want to be producing. We’ve got to find ways to be better defensively if we’re not scoring. We need to find ways to get wins. It’s just really frustrating in the locker room.”
The Sharks lost captain Logan Couture in the first period after he was hit in the face with a puck. He was placed in concussion protocol but isn’t expected to miss any additional time.
But his absence was big against Colorado’s high-powered top line.
“They’re an opportunistic team,” interim coach Bob Boughner said. “They have some world class players. That was the difference tonight. We didn’t have an answer for them without Cooch.”
Namestnikov scored the tiebreaking goal off a pass from Landeskog shortly after Francouz stopped Evander Kane on a breakaway.
Landeskog had scored earlier in the second period after MacKinnon created a chance with some nifty moves before getting stopped by Jones. Landeskog was there to knock in the rebound.
Karlsson tied it when he blocked a shot from Kevin Cannauton at point to set up his own breakaway off a pass from Marcus Sorensen.
Donskoi’s goal late in the third in his first game back in San Jose since leaving as a free agent last offseason gave Colorado a two-goal cushion which proved important when Gregor scored on the power play with 43.6 seconds to play.
“I’ve never had that experience before,” Donskoi said. “So there was some extra nervousness maybe. A lot of memories. Good stuff tonight. It was a good experience for me.”
The attendance of 14,694 marked the second time this homestand the Sharks drew fewer than 15,000 fans, a low last reached by the franchise in the 2003-04 season. The combination of a losing team and the spread of the coronavirus in Santa Clara County have likely contributed to the low attendance.
The teams traded power-play goals in the first period with Thornton converting off a pass from Kane midway through the period for San Jose and MacKinnon answering late in the period off a pass from Landeskog late in the first for his 35th goal.
NOTES: Thortnon’s goal gave him 30 points in a season for the 21st time in his career. Only Gordie Howe (25), Mark Messier (24), Ron Francis and Jaromir Jagr (23 each) and Ray Bourque (22) have done that more often. ... Landeskog has an eight-game point streak with five goals and eight assists in that span. ... Colorado had its streak of 11 straight games without allowing a power play goal snapped.
Avalanche: Visit Los Angeles on Monday night.