Tyson Jost’s star turn was topped only by Cale Makar, who had a goal and an assist, as the Colorado Avalanche beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Friday.
Top-line center Nathan MacKinnon missed the game with a lower-body injury. Jost slid into his spot and scored.
Coach Jared Bednar said MacKinnon was “banged up a little bit” and he didn’t want him playing through it.
“He's just hurting a little, so we decided to not risk making his injury or his issue worse,” Bednar said.
The Avalanche surrendered a two-goal lead and lost to the San Jose Sharks 3-2 on Wednesday. Makar was on the ice for both even-strength goals. He turned in a bounce-back effort two nights later.
“I feel like lately, I’m on the ice for almost every single goal-against,” Makar said. “I think just for me – going into the playoffs here especially, and as a (defensive) core as well – tonight we were better on gaps and in our defensive zone, other than a few mishaps.”
Alex Newhook dropped the puck off for Andre Burakovsky (2 assists), who in turn left it for Makar. Makar switched sides and batted the puck back and forth as he waited for goaltender Cal Peterson to sprawl out, then put it over him for a 3-1 lead.
“I just have to get back to that style of game I like to play in the defensive zone,” Makar said.
“I definitely want to be on both sides, but I obviously want to minimize the negative aspects of being on the ice for goals-against.”
Newhook, 20, who made his NHL debut in that loss to the Sharks, recorded his first NHL point with an assist.
The Kings’ Brendan Lemieux scored just over two minutes into the game. On the tying goal, the puck slid out to Gabriel Landeskog out of a power-play scrum. Colorado sent the puck on a tour of the offensive zone, eventually arriving at Makar, who teed up Mikko Rantanen. Rantanen buried his 30th goal of the season.
Jost came up the boards and his innocent-looking shot squeezed between Petersen’s pads to make it 2-1.
“Especially against these guys, how they play in the neutral zone, you have to dump a lot of pucks in and he’s really good at retrieving it,” Rantanen said of Jost. “I think he showed it today and got a goal for it, so credit to him.”
Philipp Grubauer made 15 saves.
Colorado went down a defenseman during the second period as Patrik Nemeth was tangled up with a Kings player and both went head-first into the boards. Nemeth did not return, but Bednar said he didn’t have a concussion. He was experiencing soreness and a decision on Saturday’s game will be made Saturday.
Los Angeles’ Gabriel Vilardi scored with two and a half minutes to go in an otherwise uneventful third period, forcing the Avalanche to tighten up and close it out.
“We weren’t perfect, but it was a real good step in the right direction here with still four games to go,” Bednar said. “I liked the way we played tonight a lot.”