Rantanen returns to lineup, leads Avalanche past Chicago 7-3
DENVER -- Mikko Rantanen took almost six weeks to recover from an injury. He needed just a few minutes to show he was hadn't missed a beat.
Rantanen had a goal and three assists in his return to Colorado's lineup after missing 16 games due to injury, and Nazem Kadri and Joonas Donskoi each scored twice as the Avalanche beat the Chicago Blackhawks 7-3 on Saturday night.
The four points were a season high for Rantanen and came in just 10 minutes, 43 seconds of ice time.
"He's amazing," center Nathan MacKinnon said. "He makes everyone on the ice so much better. He's one of the best players in the world. He's so young still, he's going to get so much better."
Donskoi also had two assists, MacKinnon added a goal and two assists and Tyson Jost also scored to help Colorado sweep the two-game set. The Avalanche won 5-2 in Chicago on Friday.
"The last two, three games we've been playing pretty good hockey," Donskoi said. "We've been able to find the back of the net. We're scoring a lot of goals. A lot of guys have been able to put the puck in the net, so it's been good."
Rantanen had 12 points in the first eight games before he was sidelined Oct. 21 with a lower-body injury. He contributed quickly, picking up an assist on Kadri's first goal that tied the game. He fed MacKinnon on his 17th of the season, and scored his sixth goal of the season to make it 5-1 and chase Chicago goaltender Robin Lehner.
"Very disappointed, obviously, the second period in particular," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I didn't mind our first period, we made a couple of poor reads in the first that they scored on."
Lehner had nine saves before being replaced by Corey Crawford, who didn't do much better. Donskoi scored a few minutes later as Rantanen picked up his third assist of the game, and Jost scored 2:10 later to give the Avalanche a 7-1 lead.
Rantanen sat out the third period for precautionary reasons.
"He's fine," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "He tweaked his leg a little bit a couple of times and started to get a little tired so I didn't see a reason to bring him out for the third in a 7-2 game. He'll be ready to go."
Patrick Kane scored his 14th goal late in the third to extend his points streak to 15 games, the longest of the season in the NHL.
Crawford stopped 13 shots.
The Blackhawks fell behind quickly Friday but struck first in the rematch when Brandon Saad scored a short-handed goal at 1:37 of the first period. Kadri tied it at 7:53, starting a string of three goals in a 3:15 span.
"I felt good going out there and they score three pretty good ones real quick," Lehner said.
Chicago had a chance to get back into it with 58 seconds of a 5-on-3 at the end of the first, but couldn't beat Philipp Grubauer (26 saves). Colorado then killed off Ryan Graves' double minor and Donskoi scored 15 seconds after Graves came out of the box.
Dominik Kubalik got his eighth goal of the season 36 seconds after Jost scored, and Kane scored on a 5-on-3 at 14:38 of the third but the game was out of reach.
"Very fast team," Kane said. "And they got some players on the point that can really jump into the play and make life difficult for you."
NOTES: Chicago D Duncan Keith was scratched with a groin injury suffered in Friday's game. He's listed as day-to-day. ... Donksoi also added an assist. ... Saad's short-handed goal was the third of the season for the Blackhawks and the first on the road. ... Colorado D Erik Johnson missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury.
Chicago: Hosts the St. Louis Blues on Monday night.
Colorado: At Toronto on Wednesday night.
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