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Avs beat Oilers 5-1 in final regular season game

Colorado Avalanche left wing Zach Parise, center, puts a shot on Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner, left, after driving past defenseman Troy Stecher during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 18, 2024, in Denver. (David Zalubowski / The Associated Press) Colorado Avalanche left wing Zach Parise, center, puts a shot on Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner, left, after driving past defenseman Troy Stecher during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 18, 2024, in Denver. (David Zalubowski / The Associated Press)
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DENVER, Col. -

Valeri Nichushkin scored twice, Nathan MacKinnon added two assists to break the franchise’s single-season points mark and the Colorado Avalanche cruised into the playoffs behind a 5-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.

MacKinnon wrapped up the regular season with 140 points (51 goals, 89 assists) to top Peter Stastny’s franchise record of 139 set in 1981-82 when the club was in Quebec.

The speedy MacKinnon couldn’t catch Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov in the race for the Art Ross Trophy, which goes to the leading points scorer. Kucherov wound up with 144 points.

Still, MacKinnon made a compelling case for the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP. Then again, so have Kucherov, Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid.

“I don’t think one guy is more deserving (than) another guy,” MacKinnon said. “It's out of my hands and I can’t control people who vote for me or don’t like me or like me. It’s all good either way.”

Mikko Rantanen, Josh Manson and Zach Parise also scored to help the Avalanche snap a two-game slide. Colorado jumped out to a 4-0 lead midway through the first period and never looked back in a game where the Oilers rested several of their starters, including McDavid.

“It’s a tough game to play against a depleted lineup. It’s always exciting to play the best players in the league, the best player in the world over there," MacKinnon said in reference to McDavid. “But I get it. They have nothing to play for right now. They don’t want to get hurt.”

Justus Annunen made 25 saves for the Avalanche, who finished with a league-best 31 home wins. Colorado opens the playoffs at Winnipeg on Sunday.

“I like where we're at,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “I think guys mentally are in a good spot.”

Dylan Holloway had a power-play goal for Edmonton. The Oilers will host Los Angeles in the first round starting Monday after the Kings won in OT over Chicago and Vegas lost to Anaheim in games later Thursday.

Missing from the Edmonton lineup in addition to McDavid were Mattias Ekholm, Zach Hyman, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl, Evan Bouchard and Evander Kane. That's nearly 70% of the team's points production this season.

“I thought the first half of that first period we’re just standing around watching them and they were skating around us, making plays,” Oilers forward Corey Perry said. "After that, it’s all about work and we battled hard. The way we started, it just wasn't there.

“They're a great team. They're in playoff mode and they came out hard.”

The Avalanche went with a full cast and Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner was under early pressure, surrendering four goals on 13 shots in the first period. Calvin Pickard took over after the first intermission and stopped 13 shots.

MacKinnon joined Kucherov in the 140-point club this season. It marks the seventh season in NHL history where multiple players have reached that mark. The last time was Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemieux in 1995-96, according to NHL Stats.

Avalanche forward Jonathan Drouin appeared to be shaken up late in the second and wasn't on the bench to start the third period. He's turned in a career year with 56 points.

Bednar had no update after the game.

The players from the Denver Pioneers were in attendance and received a loud ovation from the crowd in the first period. The team captured its record 10th NCAA national hockey title last weekend.

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