DENVER — As the injuries continue to pile on, the Avalanche’s three-headed monster has taken the reigns and carried the team to its fourth straight victory.

The Avs defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 at Ball Arena on Saturday, thanks largely to a combined eight points from Cale Makar, Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon. Makar had two goals, MacKinnon pitched in with a goal and an assist and Rantanen had perhaps his best showing of the season, putting up three assists — two of which were highlight-worthy — before adding a late empty-net goal.

“He was great,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said of Rantanen’s performance. “Physical, hard on pucks, playing with guys on his back, making plays forehand and backhand. I thought he was fantastic tonight.”

Kurtis MacDermid (lower body) and Sampa Ranta both left with injuries and did not return. Bednar did not have an update on either, who both joined a long list of injuries that already includes Gabriel Landeskog, Darren Helm, Valeri Nichushkin, Bowen Byram, Samuel Girard and Shane Bowers.

“He got hit in the face,” Bednar said of Ranta. “I don’t know if it was a stick or puck or what it was but he was heading to the locker room to get fixed up and wasn’t coming back.”

Colorado turned to backup Pavel Francouz in goal. His first appearance in more than two weeks was also his first victory of the season. Francouz was solid, making a number of big stops early to keep the game scoreless. He made just 24 saves, surrendering the Hurricanes’ lone goal on a 2-on-1 rush.

The Avalanche were also perfect on the penalty kill, killing off all five of the Hurricanes’ power-play opportunities.

“Our PK was just outstanding today. I don’t even think they got any shots on the net,” Francouz said. “That was something that something I haven’t seen in a long time.

“Definitely the best game of the year for us.”

Carolina’s 25 shots were the third-least the Avs have allowed all season. They gave up 17 to the Blackhawks on opening night and just 23 in a 1-0 loss in New Jersey.

“For us, we kept it like a relatively boring game, tried to minimize a lot of their high-end chances that they usually get,” Makar said of the team’s defensive game. “I feel like we did a good job whether it was our forwards sinking down or just trying to play them tight in the corner. A little bit tougher when you go down to five D but I feel like as a D core, we thrive off that sometimes.”

After a sloppy start at both ends of the ice, the Avalanche began to push offensively, drawing a penalty and finding the back of the net on their league-best power play. The goal came from Makar and was assisted by MacKinnon and Rantanen. But it wasn’t the type of goal you’d expect from Colorado’s three superstars.

Makar collected the puck at the point, skated across the blue line and fired a wrist shot that missed the net. The puck hit the glass behind the goal, bounced back in the crease, deflected off the back of goalie Antti Raanta’s ankle, and trickled in.

It was Makar’s second of the season and first of two in just over three minutes.

“It went right through Lehky’s arm, he sucked in his gut, kind of let it go by him. Just a good bounce off the glass,” Makar said of the obscure goal.

On his second tally, Makar pinched from the blue line to accept a pass from Rantanen and fired it home. Rantanen fought off both defensemen Calvin De Haan and Jalen Chatfield, using his size and physicality to separate both from the puck before finding an open Makar.

Rantanen’s hard work on the eventual game-winner was well-received among his teammates.

“When I saw him throw him down in the corner I was like that was a pretty good battle and then obviously beat him out there with the puck,” Makar said. “I just saw an opening back side and Mikko was able to slide it over. Good play.”

Colorado held the two-goal lead into the second before quickly adding another. Rantanen was once again the set-up man, this time finding MacKinnon on the two-on-one which finished with a one-timer.

MacKinnon’s fourth tally of the season and first in seven games came after a stretch of 12 assists in six games. His 19 helpers are tied for the most in the NHL with Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl.

“He’s been making some really good passes so I’m glad I could return the favor,” Rantanen said of MacKinnon.

Aarif Deen is our Colorado Avalanche beat reporter. He covers Avs games live from Ball Arena and attends practices, media availabilities and other events pertaining to the Avs on the daily beat. He is also a co-host of Hockey Mountain High: Your go-to Avalanche Podcast. Deen joined Mile High Sports upon completing his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked as the assistant sports information director for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department.
Follow him on Twitter @runwriteAarif

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