Rantanen, Grubauer lead Avalanche to 3-0 win over Senators

DENVER (AP) — Mikko Rantanen scored in the first period following a terrific twirl move, Philipp Grubauer stopped 34 shots for his second shutout of the season and the high-flying Colorado Avalanche beat the Ottawa Senators 3-0 on Tuesday night.

Valeri Nichushkin scored a power-play goal in the third for the Avalanche, who’ve won five straight. Rantanen got things started by taking a pass from Nathan MacKinnon at the blue line, spinning around a Senators defenseman, skating in and lofting a backhand shot over Marcus Hogberg.

Nichushkin gave Grubauer and the Avalanche a little more breathing room midway through the third. Captain Gabriel Landeskog added an empty-netter with just over a minute remaining after the Senators pulled Hogberg for an extra skater.

It was Grubauer’s 18th win of the season, which matches his career high set last season. He’s won his last four starts.

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Ottawa dropped to 0-4-2 over its last six games.

Hogberg made 33 saves against an Avalanche team that entered the game averaging a league-best 3.65 goals.

The Avalanche returned home for the first time since Jan. 20. Their extended time away from Pepsi Center was on the heels of the All-Star Game, their bye week and then a trip in which they went 4-1. This kicked off the first of five straight “home” games for Colorado, which includes the 2020 NHL Stadium Series outdoor game Saturday down the road at the Air Force Academy against the Los Angeles Kings.

Trailing 1-0 late in the second, the Senators thought they may have tied it up. Nick Paul was shoved from behind by Landeskog, sending him and the puck crashing into Grubauer. The net was knocked off its pegs and the puck crossed the line. After a review, it was determined the whistle sounded before the goal.

In a fast-paced first period, the Avalanche scored late after settling a little score early.

With 41 seconds remaining, Rantanen knocked in his 18th goal of the season.

Before that, there were some hard feelings following Dylan DeMelo’s high hit on MacKinnon. Landeskog took exception and later shoved the Senators defenseman to the ice. Landeskog drew a roughing penalty, which the Avalanche weathered.

Colorado center Nazem Kadri will be sidelined indefinitely due to a lower-body injury. Kadri was hurt Sunday at Minnesota. Coach Jared Bednar said after the morning skate that Kadri will be out “weeks, not days.”

Kadri has 19 goals and 17 assists in 51 games this season.

NOTES: Senators F Mikkel Boedker played in his 700th career game. Boedker was briefly with Colorado in ’15-16. … Senators D Mark Borowiecki and his wife recently welcomed a son, Miles. “As much as we want him back right now, it’s the time for him to be with his wife and we assume he’ll be back next game,” coach D.J. Smith told the media after morning skate. … Smith said G Anders Nilsson (concussion) is starting to skate after being out since mid-December. “We don’t want to put any pressure on him,” Smith said. “He’s certainly in a better spot than he was a month ago.” … Colorado won 4-1 in Ottawa last Thursday. … MacKinnon had two assists.

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