Nathan MacKinnon nets 4 goals as Avalanche crush Caps

Nathan MacKinnon scored four goals, three in a span of 6:37 of the second period, and added an assist as the Colorado Avalanche beat the Washington Capitals 6-2 on Wednesday in Denver.

MacKinnon recorded his sixth career regular-season hat trick, this one a natural in the second period, and matched his career-best, single-game goal total. He has recorded at least one point in all 24 Colorado home games, the third-longest streak in NHL history to begin a season. He also broke a tie with Joe Sakic (2000-01) for the longest home point streak in franchise history.

MacKinnon’s second straight four-plus-point game gave him the NHL scoring lead with 82 points.

Mikko Rantanen finished with a goal and four assists, Cale Makar had a goal and two assists, and Alexandar Georgiev turned away 23 shots for Colorado, which won for the sixth time in eight games.

Dylan Strome scored twice and Charlie Lindgren made 26 saves for Washington, which lost for the second consecutive night. The Capitals have dropped three in a row overall.

MacKinnon, who has 30 goals, broke open a close game with his scoring flurry. He got his first of the night when Rantanen fed him with a pass through the slot, and he beat Lindgren on the power play at 2:39 of the second period for a 2-0 lead.

He got another on a power play at 7:00, and the third goal came on an odd-man rush when he beat Lindgren with a backhander at 9:16. MacKinnon netted his fourth of the night at 16:14 of the third period.

Rantanen’s assist on MacKinnon’s final goal gave him his first career five-point game.

Strome scored at 7:26 of the third to make it 4-1, but Rantanen’s 27th at 10:20 restored the four-goal lead. Strome later notched his 18th at 17:37 of the third.

The Capitals carried the play for most of the first period and held an 8-2 edge in shots on goal but couldn’t get an early one by Georgiev.

Washington did have two power-play chances, but Makar scored his first regular-season short-handed goal when he used John Carlson as a screen to beat Lindgren at 19:23 of the opening period. It was his 11th goal of the season.

The Avalanche got Artturi Lehkonen and Bowen Byram back in the lineup. Lehkonen (neck) had been out since mid-November, and Byram (lower body) returned from a three-week absence.