DENVER (AP) — Michael Bunting had two goals, Auston Matthews and TJ Brody scored with 24 seconds left in the second quarter, and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Colorado Avalanche 6-2 Saturday night team, spoiling the return of Nathan McKinnon.
Matthews assisted his 18th, Mitch Marner and Pierre Envar also had goals, and Matt Murray stopped 26 shots for the Raptors.
MacKinnon missed 10 games with an upper-body injury on Dec. 5 against Philadelphia. His original schedule was to return next week, but he was able to return early, finishing in minus-3 at 22:19 ice time.
JT Compher had a goal and an assist and Devon Toews scored for Colorado, who have lost their second straight game.
The Maple Leafs are 2-1 on their road trip and held on to a third-quarter lead after losing late gains to St. Louis and Arizona State.
They took a one-goal lead late in the second quarter Saturday night when they added two quick insurance goals. Matthews converted a mistake by former team-mate Denis Malgin in the 15th minute, while Brodie tackled MacKinnon’s clearance attempt and scored his second.
Goalkeeper Alexandar Georgiev ended his night with five goals in 24 shots. Jonas Johansson had six saves.
Bunting hit an empty goal at 16:11 of the third quarter, his 11th of the season.
Marner and Engvall put Toronto up 2-0 with 2:36 to go in Game 1, and Compher scored his seventh at 17:28.
The Avalanche called a penalty eight seconds into the third quarter and Bunting scored with 34 seconds left. Toews made it 3-2 at 9:45.
Notes: John Tavares and William Nyland each had two assists for the Maple Leafs. … Since moving to Colorado in 1995, the Avalanche are 4-4-2 at home on New Year’s Eve. … RW Dryden Hunt played in his second game since being traded to Toronto by Colorado on Dec. 19. … Avalanche G Pavel Francouz (lower body) missed his third straight game.
Maple Leafs: Host St. Louis on Tuesday night.
Avalanche: Host Vegas on Monday night.
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