DENVER (AP) — Jamie McGinn turned in the biggest play before the game even began, preparing a pregame meal for the cooking-challenged Nathan MacKinnon.
That pasta and chicken feast fueled the rookie MacKinnon to his first two-goal game and the Colorado Avalanche held off the San Jose Sharks 4-3 on Saturday for their third straight win.
"I think I've got to take a little bit of credit for that," McGinn joked.
McGinn chipped in with more than a meal, though, scoring a goal as well. The Avalanche jumped out to a 4-0 lead — and would need every one to dodge a comeback from San Jose.
Semyon Varlamov was at his best late in the game, making several big stops in the waning moments. He finished with 30 saves.
"Varly really bailed us out at the end there," MacKinnon said. "We knew they're a resilient team. Next time we play them, if we get up, we've got to step on the pedal a little bit more."
With his two-goal burst, MacKinnon moved past San Jose's Tomas Hertl for most points (26) among rookies. Hertl is sidelined after undergoing surgery earlier this week to repair damaged ligaments in his right knee.
Think about that rookie scoring race?
"A little bit, when it gets announced on the Jumbotron," MacKinnon said. "But that's not my focus."
These days, about the only thing MacKinnon can't do is cook. That's why McGinn stepped in.
MacKinnon usually lives in backup goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere's basement. But Giguere had family in and MacKinnon stayed with McGinn.
"So I was cooking this morning," McGinn said. "He said he doesn't know how to cook. We'll let that slide."
The Avalanche have 56 points at the halfway point of the season, second-most in team history behind the 2000-01 Stanley Cup team. Still, there's plenty of season left as they try to return to the postseason after a three-year drought.
"Everybody is pushing hard," first-year coach Patrick Roy said. "Everybody wants to give ourselves a chance to make the playoffs."
Erik Johnson scored a fluke goal at 5:45 of the second when the puck bounced past Antti Niemi. That gaffe ended the goaltender's day and frustrated his coach Todd McLellan so much that he inserted backup Alex Stalock, who promptly allowed MacKinnon's second goal 14 seconds later to make it a 4-0 game.