What was already a memorable regular season is now historic. And it was a pair of superstars that led the charge in a dominating performance at Ball Arena.
The Avalanche’s 9-3 rout of the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday was their 53rd win and 29th at home — both franchise bests. And they’ve got five more games at Ball Arena and nine overall to build on this historic year.
Nathan MacKinnon recorded his third career regular-season hat trick and added two assists while Cale Makar pitched in with a goal and three assists. It was MacKinnon’s second five-point performance this season and fourth of his career.
“I was blessed tonight, for sure,” MacKinnon said.
Their performances were nearly matched by others as Valeri Nichushkin and Nicolas Aube-Kubel each added two goals.
The history-making effort was also a night of career bests. Mikko Rantanen tied his career-high in points (87), while Nichushkin and linemate Andre Burakovsky each reached a new career-best in goals (21).
It was an all-around strong performance for a team that seemingly has nothing left to play for except defending their Presidents’ Trophy.
Colorado used a strong first period to jump ahead 4-0, chasing goalie Jonathan Quick in the process. The Kings, who are still in the midst of a battle for playoff positioning, were on the tail end of a back-to-back. They had a lot more on the line but struggled to stop the Avalanche’s attack.
They attempted to claw back in the second, scoring twice while outshooting Colorado 13-2 in a 10-minute window to make it a 4-2 game. But then the goals continue to pour on from the NHL’s best team.
The Avs were 2-for-2 on the power play, dominating possession on both opportunities before eventually scoring. Makar and MacKinnon each set the other up for a one-timer to cap off the perfect night on the man advantage.
“Yeah, they were sharp,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said of his team’s power play. “It’s been rolling pretty good and that’s with some key guys out. But we’ve had other guys step in.”
In goal, Darcy Kuemper stopped 29 shots to improve to 35-9-3 on the season. He’s one victory shoy of tying Nashville’s Juuse Saros atop the NHL despite appearing in 10 fewer games.
“His progression. I think he’s getting better and better every start he gets,” Bednar said of Kuemper. “Really consistent down the stretch here for months now.”