DENVER (AP) — Nathan MacKinnon notched his seventh career hat trick as part of a four-point performance, and the Colorado Avalanche broke out of a two-game funk with a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.

Artturi Lehkonen and Cale Makar also scored for the Avalanche. Alexandar Georgiev stopped 20 shots in a bounce-back performance after allowing 12 goals in his previous two games.

The win kept Colorado in second place in the Central Division with 104 points. The team trails Dallas by five points with three games left. Colorado also stays ahead of Winnipeg, which beat Nashville 4-3 in overtime Tuesday to climb to 102 points.

Colorado hosts the Jets on Saturday in what could be a pivotal game for seeding purposes. The top two spots in the division earn home-ice advantage in the first round.

Kirill Kaprizov and Matt Boldy had goals for a Wild team that was officially eliminated from postseason contention. Filip Gustavsson made 27 saves.

The game was halted for several minutes in the second period to clean up the plethora of hats that hit the ice after MacKinnon’s third goal. He has scored 51 times this season, eclipsing the 50-goal mark for the first time in his career.

MacKinnon also had an assist to give him 137 points. He’s keeping pace with Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov in the race for the Art Ross Trophy, which goes to the NHL’s points leader. Kucherov has 139 points after a three-assist performance Tuesday.

The speedy MacKinnon helped the Avalanche pull away by scoring two of their three goals in the second to make it a 5-2 game.

Makar had two assists to go with his 20th goal of the season. He’s the first defenseman in franchise history to notch multiple 20-goal seasons.

Jonathan Drouin added three assists.

After the morning skate, Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said he was hoping for a “rock-solid identity game” from his team. It was rock solid, especially on defense. The only blemish was allowing two goals on the power play.

There was a scary moment in the first period when Colorado defenseman Devon Toews fell to the ice after being hit by a stick. He was helped to the locker room with a towel pressed against his face. The Wild initially drew a double-minor penalty for drawing blood, but a review showed Toews was accidentally struck by the stick of teammate Andrew Cogliano.

Toews returned later in the period.

The Avalanche were without Mikko Rantanen (concussion protocol) for a second straight game. Rantanen skated with the team Tuesday morning. He could be back this weekend.

UP NEXT

Wild: At Vegas on Friday.

Avalanche: Host Winnipeg on Saturday.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl