Colorado won 7-3 in Florida on Saturday night and swept the season series behind a strong game from MacKinnon. He had his third two-goal game and leads the Avalanche with 35 points.
MacKinnon played 21 minutes in the 5-2 loss to the Capitals and registered a minus-3 to cap a four-game road trip. He bounced back with a big performance to begin a three-game homestand.
"That line, Nate in particular, was unhappy with the last game," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "It was sort of a tough day in Wash and that was a hungry and determined line tonight. Mac especially, he doubled up almost the whole game and made the most of his ice time for sure."
MacKinnon gave Colorado a 2-1 lead when he worked his way around defenseman Aaron Ekblad, skated in on goalie James Reimer and put in a shot to the short side at 6:44 of the third period. It was MacKinnon's team-leading 13th goal of the season.
The goal came exactly two minutes after Reimer robbed MacKinnon on the doorstep. Reimer finished with 28 saves.
"I knew I was going short side. I didn't mean to put it low or high," MacKinnon said. "I just kind of threw it and whacked at it again. I'm not sure if that helped it go in or not. After getting robbed, it was nice to get that one back. It was a great save."
"I liked our start," Florida coach Bob Boughner said. "I thought we came out hard and we had some good scoring chances but we didn't bury them. They made some saves, we hit a few posts and then we got into some penalty trouble."
The Avalanche took a 1-0 lead on MacKinnon's first goal at 3:15 of the second. The Panthers tied it midway through the period when Jamie McGinn poked the puck away from Colorado defenseman Samuel Girard and fed Aleksander Barkov, who beat Varlamov for his 11th goal of the season.
"I thought we battled hard, for the most part," Reimer said. "Another good game. I thought we worked hard and unfortunately just didn't get the bounces at the end."