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MacKinnon scores winner, Avalanche edge Blue Jackets 2-1

Merzlikins kept Colorado quiet for the first two periods and most of the third.
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Sonny Milano, right, becomes entangled with Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson, center, during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Nathan MacKinnon scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:34 left, Philipp Grubauer had 31 saves and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 on Saturday night.

Nazem Kadri scored earlier in the third to tie the game, and MacKinnon beat Elvis Merzlikins with a slap shot from the left point as Avalanche rolled to their third straight win and sixth in the in the last seven games.

Seth Jones scored for the Blue Jackets, and Merzlikins lost for the first time in the last 10 games. Columbus had an 11-game points streak and a three-game win streak snapped in a game that had taught, playoff intensity.

Merzlikins kept Colorado quiet for the first two periods and most of the third. Despite the Avs hitting a crossbar or post at least five times, it looked as if the Latvian rookie might be on the way to a third straight shutout.

The Avs got close near the end of the first period when Andre Burakovsky rifled a shot from just outside the circles that clanged the crossbar and fell inches in front of the goal line before bouncing out of the blue paint.

Colorado, leading the league in goals per game, finally found the back of the net. Kadri tied the game with 8:15 left in the game when he beat Merzlikins on the glove side. Then came MacKinnon’s blast late to seal it.

The Avalanche, who are in second place in the Central Division, are 6-1-0 in their past seven games following a four-game winless streak.