Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan, right, struggles to control the puck in the corner as Colorado Avalanche right wing Jarome Iginla defends in the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski
David Zalubowski
February 22, 2015

DENVER (AP) Nathan MacKinnon rediscovered his rookie scoring touch with one of the best games of his young career.

The teenage center busted out of a slump with his first NHL hat trick, Matt Duchene also scored and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-4 on Sunday.

Alex Tanguay had a goal and Semyon Varlamov made 28 saves for the Avalanche, who have won four of five. Ryan O'Reilly added two assists for Colorado

MacKinnon, at 19 years and 5 months, became the youngest player in Avalanche history to score three goals in a game. It was Colorado's first hat trick since Duchene did it Nov. 4, 2011, at Dallas, a span of 258 games.

''He's been kind of snake bitten and it was good to see him break out,'' Duchene said. ''I think it's going to be huge for us down the stretch if he can continue to produce. A game like that can get you going. I'm really happy for him.''

Tyler Johnson had a goal and two assists for Tampa Bay, and Nikita Kucherov added a goal and an assist. Ondrej Palat and Brett Connolly also scored, and Andrei Vasilevskiy finished with 13 saves.

''If you told me we were going to score four and give up 18 shots in the game, not a chance in the world I thought we'd lose this game,'' Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. ''That about sums it up.''

MacKinnon ended a 13-game goal drought. His previous goal came at Tampa Bay on Jan. 15, when he scored with 6.8 seconds left to send the game into overtime.

He didn't need any late-game dramatics Sunday. He tied the score at 1 when he burst through defensemen Jason Garrison and Nikita Nesterov and beat Vasilevskiy with a backhand at 16:21 of the first.

''It was kind of a broken play by them in the slot,'' MacKinnon said. ''It was kind of a foot race. I tried to get a quick backhander off. I wasn't aiming. It definitely felt good to make it 1-1. The puck was finding me tonight.''

MacKinnon struck again at 3:10 of the second when he tipped Ryan O'Reilly's shot past Vasilevskiy.

Duchene scored 29 seconds later to make it 3-1. It was his 16th of the season.

''We didn't give them too many chances, but every chance we gave them was a pretty prime scoring chance,'' Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. ''It's tough to ask your goalie to stone them on breakaways, half-breakaways and turnovers right in front of our slot. That's what costs us.''

Johnson's 23rd goal at 5:51 of the second pulled the Lightning to 3-2, but MacKinnon restored the two-goal advantage 7 minutes later when he beat Vasilevskiy with a shot to the short side. It was MacKinnon's 12th of the season.

''It feels great,'' he said. ''It's been an up-and-down season but obviously it's good to see the puck go in.''

Tanguay scored his 16th at 7:20 of the third to make it 5-2. Connolly's 12th at 11:43 got the Lightning back within two goals.

Vasilevskiy came off for an extra skater with 1:58 remaining and Kucherov scored at 18:58 to make it 5-4, but the Lightning couldn't get the equalizer.

''We just needed one more,'' Johnson said. ''We had some chances, some bad puck luck there. The puck was bouncing and guys weren't able to get it, but we battled until the end.''

Palat gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead when he stole a pass from Colorado defenseman Brad Stuart, centered the puck to Johnson and then beat Varlamov after the return pass at 10:53 of the first. It was Palat's 15th goal of the season.

NOTES: Joe Sakic was the youngest player in Colorado franchise history to have a hat trick. He was 67 days younger than MacKinnon when he did it for Quebec on Oct. 22, 1988. Sakic did it again a month later. ... Avalanche D Jan Hejda was scratched for the first time this season. ... Palat extended his point streak to five games. ... Colorado LW Gabriel Landeskog failed to score a goal for the first time in six games. ... It was Military Appreciation Night at Pepsi Center.

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