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Avalanche loses Nathan MacKinnon to injury, then the game in OT at Minnesota

Star center Nathan MacKinnon became the sixth member of the Avalanche’s injured list Sunday when he did not come out of the dressing room for the third period at Minnesota and was proclaimed unfit to continue.

The Avs were tied at the time, and they took a lead early in the third period before allowing the last two goals and losing 4-3 in overtime at the Xcel Energy Center.

Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin used a big slap shot just 18 seconds into OT to beat Hunter Miska in the goalie’s second career start. Colorado’s three-game winning streak ended in the second of four consecutive meetings with Minnesota.

Miska, who is from Minnesota, is replacing the injured Pavel Francouz as Philipp Grubauer’s backup.

“It’s nice to be able to get out there and play, but I came here to get two points and it didn’t happen” Miska said.

The Avs (6-3-1) host the Wild (6-4-0) on Tuesday and Thursday at Ball Arena, and Grubauer is the likely starter both nights.

Avs coach Jared Bednar had no postgame update on MacKinnon, who logged 15:24 of ice time through two periods and often played on two lines because Colorado began the game with just 11 forwards. MacKinnon was not seen injured on a specific play.

“I haven’t even talked to the trainers yet. I just know he wasn’t able to go for the third period,” Bednar said.

The Avs’ two alternate captains are now injured, with defenseman Erik Johnson going down early in Saturday’s 5-1 win against the Wild. Colorado’s lineup Sunday featured just 19 players, one less than it can, to remain salary-cap compliant. So fourth-line winger Kiefer Sherwood was scratched, along with Johnson, who was replaced by Jacob MacDonald on the third pairing with Conor Timmins.

The Avs placed forward Matt Calvert (illness) and Francouz (lower-body) on injured reserve Sunday. Defenseman Devon Toews (foot) and forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (lower-body) also didn’t make the trip but remain on the main roster and count against the cap.

“Better to go through it now than in May or June in the playoffs,” Avs captain Gabe Landeskog said of the early injury bug. “We have plenty of depth to beat the Minnesota Wild tonight. We just didn’t play well enough … We’re a very capable team and we’re very competitive in there. You got to understand, the guys in the locker room, we don’t sit around the room looking around the room who’s missing, who’s not playing. We’re just going out there and try to do our jobs and win a hockey game. That’s what we’re going to continue to do.”

Brandon Saad scored 7:09 into the third period to give the Avs a 3-2 lead, but Victor Rask scored his second goal of the game at 12:34 to knot it again. Nazem Kadri assisted on Saad’s goal for his 400th career point.

Defenseman Cale Makar, who logged a team-high 17:35 through two periods, scored Colorado’s second goal, his first of the season, at 3:31 of the second period to tie it 2-2. The Wild had taken a 2-1 just 2:03 earlier when Rask struck 1:28 into the period.

The Avs scored first for the eighth time in nine games, and this time, it came on their first shot. Just 4:33 into the game, third-line winger Joonas Donskoi took a short headman pass from MacKinnon and beat Talbot with a wrist shot over his glove hand. The lead stood up until 16:19 of the period, when Jordan Greenway easily tapped in a loose puck from beside the net after Avs defenders failed to clear the rebound off Miska.

Footnotes. Avs rookie defenseman Bo Byram, 19, played in his seventh game, the point where his entry-level contract kicks in and he will remain in the NHL the entire season. He is not eligible to be returned to his junior team or reassigned to the minors. … Minnesota was playing without injured defenseman Matt Dumba, who scored the Wild’s goal on Saturday, and last year’s leading scorer Kevin Fiala, who served the second of his third-game suspension for a reckless check last week.

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