MacKinnon scores in OT, Avalanche beat Flames to even series
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Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) celebrates his game-winning goal with teammates Tyson Barrie (4), Mikko Rantanen (96) and Gabriel Landeskog (92) during overtime of an NHL hockey playoff game against the Calgary Flames, in Calgary, Alberta, Saturday, April 13, 2019.

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The Colorado Avalanche aren’t going home empty-handed.

After a point-blank save from Philipp Grubauer at the other end, Mikko Rantanen sprang Nathan MacKinnon, who ripped in the winning goal 8:27 into overtime of Game 2 on Saturday night in Calgary. With the 3-2 decision, the Western Conference playoff series is tied at a game apiece.

It came after the Avalanche tied it up late in regulation.

Calgary’s Sean Monahan swiped at a bouncing puck and it soared over Grubauer with less than eight minutes left in regulation. For a while, that looked like it would do it.

“It was kind of deflating because we were all over them in the third,” MacKinnon told reporters after the game.

Flames goaltender Mike Smith went down as the puck bounced around and J.T. Compher sent it in for his first career playoff goal.

Colorado was blanked 4-0 Thursday in Game 1 by the Flames, the top finishers in the Western Conference. The visitors stepped it up considerably, especially Grubauer, who made 35 saves.

The series heads back to Denver for Games 3 and 4 starting Monday.

Matt Nieto made sure the Avs’ first goal of the series was worth the wait, putting away a shorthanded breakaway in the second period to make it 1-0. He picked the puck up along the boards in his own end, benefited from his Flames defender losing his stick, went long and went high on Smith.

Gabriel Landeskog came close to ending the scoring drought in the first period, attempting to go five-hole on a breakaway of his own. But the shot wound up in Smith’s pads.

The Flames tied it up before the end of the second during Avs forward Derick Brassard’s third minor penalty of the game. Rasmus Andersson deposited a rebound into a half-open net.

Grubauer had to cover for his teammates with a two-part save after they turned the puck over at the blue line with just over a minute left in regulation.

“He’s got such a great demeanor on him,” MacKinnon said. “It’s cool to have a goalie that’s so calm and gives us so much confidence.”

Colorado’s faceoff percentage remained a problem area, sticking around 35 percent. But the result was drastically different.

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