MacKinnon's hat trick leads Avs over Sharks

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[December 29, 2015]  SAN JOSE -- When Nathan MacKinnon decided to break out of a slump Monday, he did so in a big way.

The center scored two of his three goals on Colorado's potent power play to snap a 14-game goalless drought, and his second career hat trick propelled the Avalanche to a 6-3 win over the hapless-at-home San Jose Sharks on Monday.

San Jose dropped a fourth straight game at SAP Center, where it is an unaccustomed league-worst 4-10.

As for MacKinnon, it was a night that felt long overdue.

"They come in bunches sometimes, and obviously it's nice to get on the board and get the win," MacKinnon said.

Colorado won this one thanks to its special teams play. The Avalanche were a season-best 4-for-6 on the power play (11 shots during 7:53 of five-on-four play) while holding San Jose without a goal on its three power plays.

"Special units were really good," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "That's what you like to see on the road."

MacKinnon's second goal of the game came just 20 seconds into a hooking penalty by Sharks right winger Tommy Wingels and gave Colorado its second two-goal lead of the third period. San Jose took five stick-related minors in the game, including four in the opening period when Colorado struck twice on the power play.

"I think our penalty kill lacked an attention to detail," Wingels said. "Certainly a couple days off will do that, but that's not an excuse because we know better. (Our) penalty kill is a better unit than that. They have a good power play that's going to take advantage of mental mistakes we made."

The Sharks tried to mount a comeback by registering the first nine shots of the third period. However, instead of gaining the equalizer, San Jose defenseman Brent Burns took a holding penalty. The Avalanche converted when left winger Blake Comeau scored his sixth of the season at 7:09 with just two seconds left in the advantage.

Sharks center Tomas Hertl scored his fourth goal of the season 58 seconds later to briefly draw the hosts to within one goal again before MacKinnon struck to make it 5-3 at 8:44. He capped his three-goal game with an empty-net goal at 18:32.

"I don't have a reason -- hooking, holding -- we took six (penalties)," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "You're playing with fire any time you take that many penalties. They had four power-play goals; that was the difference in the game."

Colorado scored at even strength just past the midway point of the middle period to take a two-goal lead, but the Sharks responded several minutes later to stay within a goal again at the second intermission.

Avalanche center Matt Duchene beat Sharks defenseman Paul Martin to the side of the net and scored on a spin-a-rama shot that caromed off a skate in front of San Jose goalie Martin Jones. Duchene's team-leading 17th goal came at 11:19 after the Sharks repeatedly failed to clear the puck up the right wall.

San Jose, which failed to convert on either of two early-period power plays, cashed in five-on-five when left winger Melker Karlsson scored his fourth of the season with a blast from the high slot that beat screened Colorado goalie Calvin Pickard at 13:58.

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The Sharks were guilty of four stick fouls in the opening period, and the Avalanche made the hosts pay for it by converting twice on the power play to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.

MacKinnon converted 48 seconds into a hooking minor by San Jose center Joe Thornton. MacKinnon was left alone at the edge of the right circle where center Carl Soderberg hit him with a perfect pass from the left circle at 8:46.

The goal snapped a streak of 21 straight kills over eight games by Sharks' penalty killers, who were 14-for-14 over six games. Colorado scored first for the 10th consecutive game, this after the Sharks registered the first five shots of the game.

San Jose center Patrick Marleau tied the game at 10:07 with his 14th goal of the season -- and No. 470 of his career -- with a shot from the slot that deflected off the glove of Pickard. Right winger Joel Ward intercepted a weak pass by Avalanche right winger Jack Skille to start the sequence.

Colorado jumped ahead 2-1 by converting on its fourth power play opportunity of the period. Soderberg redirected a drive by defenseman Francois Beachemin from the point past Jones at 14:28.

"You draw penalties when you're buzzing in the O zone," MacKinnon said. "We got some breaks. I think some calls maybe could have gone either way, I'm not sure. Some nights they wouldn't have called those. We're fortunate in that sense, but we were moving our feet down low and creating stuff."



NOTES: Avalanche RW Jarome Iginla remained stuck on 599 career goals, one short of becoming the 19th player to score 600. ... RW Joel Ward returned to the Sharks' lineup after missing two games with an upper-body injury. ... Colorado G Calvin Pickard made his first start of the season after appearing twice in relief. Pickard was recently recalled after backup G Reto Berra went down with an ankle injury. Berra is on injured reserve. ... The Avalanche open a season-long five-game homestand Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks. ... San Jose next plays the second contest of a five-game homestand Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers. ... Sharks C Logan Couture has resumed skating with the team but his return from surgery to repair a blood vessel in his thigh has not been determined. ... RW Ben Smith and D Matt Tennyson were healthy scratches for San Jose, while D Nate Guenin and RW Chris Wagner did not dress for Colorado.

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