DENVER -- The James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Phil Kessel line combined for three goals and three assists for Toronto on Tuesday, and the Maple Leafs defeated the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 at Pepsi Center to match their longest winning streak since Dec. 23 to Jan. 2 in the 2005-06 season.
Colorado rookie Nathan MacKinnon scored late in the second period and early in the third to pull the Avalanche within 4-2, but goalie J.S. Giguere, in for starter Semyon Varlamov, went to the bench for an extra skater with 2:56 to play, and Jay McClement scored into the vacated net with 2:13 remaining.
Toronto ended Colorado's winning streak at four games and handed Varlamov his first regulation defeat since Dec. 10, a 3-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. Varlamov, who went 11-0-5 in his previous 16 decisions, was replaced at 2:55 of the second period after allowing three goals on 10 shots.
"We pushed hard, but their goalie (James Reimer) made some big saves for them," MacKinnon said. "Like I said, I think we need to clean up our second period. This game could have been very different.”
The Maple Leafs took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Kessel and van Riemsdyk. Kessel stretched his goal-scoring streak to four games and his point-scoring streak to seven when he scored at 3:56, shortly after the Maple Leafs held the Avalanche to one shot on a power play.
Dion Phaneuf fired a long pass for Kessel that caromed off the boards behind Varlamov. Kessel was under a head of steam when the puck bounced to him, and he beat Varlamov with a quick shot to the stick side.
Van Riemsdyk scored a power-play goal at 17:41, 13 seconds after Matt Duchene was penalized for hooking Nikolai Kulemin. Cody Franson took a shot from the high slot and van Riemsdyk tipped it in for his 20th goal.
Nazem Kadri increased the lead to 3-0 at 2:55 of the second period. Jake Gardiner took a shot from just inside the blue line and Kadri tipped it into the net.
Giguere relieved Varlamov at that point and allowed Kessel's second goal of the game and 26th of the season at 5:17. Van Riemsdyk weaved through the Avalanche defense for a shot that Giguere poked away, but Kessel gained possession and scored from the slot for a 4-0 advantage.
Kessel has five goals in his goal-scoring streak and 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in his point-scoring streak.
The Avalanche broke through at 18:35 of the second on MacKinnon's first goal. PA Parenteau, who missed the previous 10 games because of a sprained left knee, passed to MacKinnon cutting to the net for a shot by Reimer's glove.
MacKinnon scored again at 5:07 of the third period. After taking a pass from Maxime Talbot, MacKinnon fired the puck over Reimer's glove for his third two-goal game of the season and 17th goal overall.