MacKinnon's hat trick helps Avs hold off Lightning

Denver, CO ( - Nathan MacKinnon notched his first career hat trick as the Colorado Avalanche held off the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-4 on Sunday.

Matt Duchene and Alex Tanguay also scored and Ryan O'Reilly supplied two assists for the Avalanche, who have won four of their last five games. Semyon Varlamov made 28 saves in his 16th consecutive start.

"It got stressful at the end with their comeback," said MacKinnon, who scored for the first time since Jan. 17 in Tampa Bay. "I was really fortunate to get the hat trick. Goals haven't been coming easy for me this year."

Tyler Johnson tallied a goal and two assists, Nikita Kucherov finished with a goal and a helper and Brett Connolly and Ondrej Palat each lit the lamp as Tampa Bay's two-game game winning streak came to an end.

"Those back-to-back games were tough, but we showed a lot of effort tonight," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. "We just have to be better with the puck."

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed all five goals on 18 shots in defeat.

The Avalanche opened the middle stanza with two quick goals to take a 3-1 lead.

At 3:10, MacKinnon tipped O'Reilly's blast from the left circle and Duchene drifted into the slot and wristed a shot past Vasilevskiy 29 seconds later.

The Lightning struck right back two minutes later. Johnson trimmed the deficit to 3-2 after tapping the rebound of Kucherov's shot through the pads of Varlamov.

MacKinnon completed his hat trick by beating Vasilevskiy with a quick shot on a breakaway for a 4-2 game with 7:10 left in the second.

Tanguay gave the Avs a three-goal advantage 7:20 into the final stanza by tapping in Dennis Everberg's feed off the rush, but Connolly's wrister gave Tampa Bay life with 8:17 to play.

Tampa Bay pulled its netminder with under two minutes to play and made it a 5-4 game on Kucherov's one-timer from the right circle. Vasilevskiy went to the bench again in favor of an extra attacker but failed to force an extra session.

Palat opened the scoring just past the midway point of the first period as he finished off a give-and-go from Johnson with a wrister.

MacKinnon, however, tied the game after his backhander on a breakaway found twine with 3:39 left in the first.

Game Notes

MacKinnon (19 years, 174 days) is the youngest Avalanche player to record a hat trick in an Avalanche uniform and second in franchise history behind Joe Sakic, who did it for the Quebec Nordiques on Oct. 22, 1988 and on Nov. 11, 1988 ... Colorado had its first hat trick since Matt Duchene's against Dallas on Nov. 4, 2011, a span of 258 games.