DENVER — Frank Vatrano scored a hat trick, and the Anaheim Ducks rallied for a 5-3 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena on Thursday.
Adam Henrique and Mason McTavish scored 24 seconds apart in the third period, and John Gibson made 41 saves for the Ducks (15-29-5), who have won three of their past four games and finished 3-2-1 on a six-game road trip.
“This was a huge game for us,” Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins said. “I’m not so sure about them, but we talked before the game about [how] we don’t have to beat these guys four times in two weeks. We just have to beat them tonight, and that was going to be our measuring stick.
“We wanted to be above .500 on this road trip. We were able to accomplish that. But I think the biggest thing is our team beat the Stanley Cup champions, and we had to do it with a whole lot of sandpaper and hard work. And our guys should be proud of that.”
Mikko Rantanen scored twice, and Samuel Girard had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche (26-18-3), who had won six straight. Pavel Francouz made 27 saves.
“I really liked our first two periods,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “There’s some habits that are creeping in our game though, whether it’s for five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes. I just don’t like getting outworked for stretches that cost you hockey games, and that’s what it was.
“Let’s call it what it is; the intensity that they came out with in the start of the third period and what we had was not comparable. If you look back on it, it doesn’t surprise you that you let the game slip away, and we’re too deep in the season now for that to happen.”
Video: [email protected]: Vatrano scores 3 goals against Avalanche
Rantanen scored on a rebound to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead at 3:56 of the first period.
Vatrano tied it 1-1 at 9:46 on his own rebound from the left face-off circle.
“The first one was a good transition from Cam [Fowler], a quick-up,” Vatrano said. “We talk about transition all the time, and fortunate enough to get a big rebound and put it in.”
Girard put Colorado back in front 2-1 at 1:13 of the second period after a cross-ice feed from Nathan MacKinnon.
Rantanen extended the lead to 3-1 on the power play at 16:09 with a one-timer from Girard in the right circle.
Girard has three points (one goal, two assists) in the past two games.
“I liked I’ve really liked the intensity Sam’s playing with recently,” Bednar said. “Like his defending; he’s hard, he’s quick, he’s got a great stick. Tonight, he was involved offensively. A big difference maker for us tonight.”
Vatrano cut it to 3-2 at 18:37 when he stuffed it past Francouz at the right post.
Henrique tied it 3-3 at 9:42 of the third on a tap-in from Troy Terry at the edge of the crease, and McTavish gave Anaheim a 4-3 lead with a wrist shot from above the left circle at 10:06.
Video: [email protected]: Ducks score 2 goals in 24 seconds, take lead
Vatrano completed the hat trick with an empty-net goal at 19:10 for the 5-3 final.
“It was a long road trip, and it was great way to end it,” Gibson said. “Last period, we just wanted to go out there, give it everything we had, and we were able to battle hard enough and get the result we wanted. It was a good game. We’ve kind of been resilient all road trip and found ways to win. Wasn’t the prettiest, but big win for our group.”
NOTES: The Ducks lead the NHL with four multigoal comebacks in the third period. … Henrique extended his point streak to six games (five goals, four assists). … Anaheim defenseman John Klingberg played 21:13 after missing one game with an illness. Ducks defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk did not play and is day to day after blocking a shot during a 5-2 win at the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday. … Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar had an assist in 26:12 of ice time after missing four games with an undisclosed injury. … Colorado forward Matt Nieto was plus-1 with two shots in 13:51 of ice time after being acquired from the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday. … The Avalanche played without forward Valeri Nichushkin because of an upper-body injury. He is day to day. … Colorado forward Denis Malgin had an assist and one shot on goal in 8:03 after missing nine games with an upper-body injury.
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