DENVER (AP) Nathan MacKinnon notched his seventh career hat trick as part of a four-point performance, and the Colorado Avalanche broke out of a two-game funk with a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.

The speedy MacKinnon has scored 51 times this season, eclipsing the 50-goal mark for the first time in his career.

“I never thought in my life I’d score 50. It feels good,” MacKinnon said. “Amazing plays from everybody all season, a lot of empty nets and a lot of hard work through the whole lineup. I think it’s a team achievement, honestly.”

Artturi Lehkonen and Cale Makar also scored for the Avalanche. Alexandar Georgiev stopped 20 shots in a bounce-back performance after allowing 12 goals in his previous two games.

The win kept Colorado in second place in the Central Division with 104 points. The team trails Dallas by five points with three games left. Colorado also stays ahead of Winnipeg, which beat Nashville 4-3 in overtime Tuesday to climb to 102 points.

Colorado hosts the Jets on Saturday in what could be a pivotal game for seeding purposes. The top two spots in the division earn home-ice advantage in the first round.

Kirill Kaprizov and Matt Boldy had goals for a Wild team that was officially eliminated from postseason contention. Filip Gustavsson made 27 saves.

“Obviously, it’s not a very fun position to be in,” Wild defenseman Zach Bogosian said of being out of the playoffs.

“They’re a good team. A player like MacKinnon, I mean, he can take over a game and he showed tonight why he’s a world-class player.”

The game was halted for several minutes in the second period to clean up the plethora of hats that hit the ice after MacKinnon's third goal.

MacKinnon also had an assist to give him 137 points. He's keeping pace with Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov in the race for the Art Ross Trophy, which goes to the NHL's points leader. Kucherov has 139 points after a three-assist performance Tuesday.

It was MacKinnon to the rescue in the second as he helped the Avalanche pull away by scoring two of their three goals to make it a 5-2 game.

“That was pretty much as dominant of performance as you could have,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said of MacKinnon. “It was a stellar performance, a special performance.”

So much so the crowd chanted “M-V-P” toward MacKinnon several times, which he appreciated.

“It’s about winning," he said. "But I appreciate the support from the fans.”

Makar had two assists to go with his 20th goal of the season. He's the first defenseman in franchise history to notch multiple 20-goal seasons.

Jonathan Drouin added three assists to give him a career-high 56 points this season.

After the morning skate, Bednar said he was hoping for a “rock-solid identity game" from his team. It was rock solid, especially on defense. The only bump was allowing two power-play goals by the Wild.

“It was exactly what we needed to see,” Bednar said of the effort. “Exactly.”

There was a scary moment in the first period when Colorado defenseman Devon Toews fell to the ice after being hit by a stick. He was helped to the locker room with a towel pressed against his face. The Wild initially drew a double-minor penalty for drawing blood, but a review showed Toews was accidentally struck by the stick of teammate Andrew Cogliano.

Toews returned later in the period.

The Avalanche were without Mikko Rantanen (concussion protocol) for a second straight game. Rantanen skated with the team Tuesday morning. He could be back this weekend.


Wild: At Vegas on Friday.

Avalanche: Host Winnipeg on Saturday.



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