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Frank Vatrano’s hat trick lifts Ducks to stunning comeback win over Avalanche

Frank Vatrano (77) celebrates with his Ducks teammates after a 5-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
Ducks forward Frank Vatrano (77) celebrates with teammates after scoring his third goal in a 5-3 victory over the defending Stanley Cup-champion Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. Vatrano tallied his third career hat trick in the win.
(Michael Martin / NHLI via Getty Images)
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Frank Vatrano scored three goals, Adam Henrique and Mason McTavish scored 24 seconds apart in the third period and the Ducks rallied from a two-goal deficit to stun Colorado 5-3 on Thursday night and stop the Avalanche’s six-game winning streak.

Trailing 3-1, Vatrano scored his second goal with 1:23 left in the second period.

The Ducks then dominated early in the third. Henrique tied it on a feed from Denver native Troy Terry at 9:42. And McTavish put the Ducks ahead when his shot trickled past Pavel Francouz.

The Avalanche had numerous chances late, twice hitting the post until Vatrano scored an empty-net goal with 50 seconds left. It’s his third career hat trick and first since Jan. 20, 2020, against Chicago when he played for Florida.

“It feels great,” the 28-year-old winger said. “We’re playing against the defending Stanley Cup champions, so we needed a full 60-minute effort.“

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John Gibson stopped 40 shots, including numerous big saves in the final few minutes. It allowed the Ducks, in last place in the Pacific Division, to finish a six-game trip 3-2-1.

“It was a one-goal game and we want to win,” Gibson said. “So I’ve got to do whatever I can.”

Mikko Rantanen scored twice, Samuel Girard added a goal and an assist and Cale Makar had an assist in his return from injury, but the Avalanche fell to fourth in the Central Division, a point behind Minnesota.

Francouz made 27 saves.

“Too much standing around. The urgency, intensity to our game disappeared,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said of the beginning of the third period. “We still had a chance to tie the game up, but we put ourselves in a bad spot.”

Makar had missed four games with an upper-body injury. His return coincided with Valeri Nichushkin (upper body) sitting out.

“We’ve got to take a hard look in the mirror,” Rantanen said. “What happened in the third, it can’t happen if we want to be successful.”

Cam Fowler had two goals and an assist, Anthony Stolarz stopped 37 shots, and the Ducks beat the Arizona Coyotes 5-2 on Tuesday night.

Jan. 24, 2023

Nathan MacKinnon fed Girard 1:13 into the second period for his 40th assist to put the Avalanche ahead 2-1. Then with Colorado on the power play after Gibson was called for intentionally dislodging the net, Rantanen rocketed a one-timer for his 34th goal.

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It took Colorado, which had not trailed during its win streak, just 3:56 to go ahead when Rantanen knocked Makar’s rebound into an open net. It was Makar’s 31st assist.

Despite being outshot 18-7 in the first, Vatrano tied it for the Ducks midway through the period when he converted his own fat rebound.

Vatrano scored again to give Anaheim momentum entering the third. His hat trick gave him five goals in five games.

“It’s big,” Vatrano said of the comeback, “especially against them in their building. They’re a great team.”

Up next for the Ducks: Host the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night.

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