Colorado Avalanche superstar Mikko Rantanen is the first Finnish player to score 50 goals in a season since Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne did it in 1998 after scoring a hat trick in Thursday night’s win over the San Jose Sharks.
MIK50 RANTANEN 🚨#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/fCttuYtfJp
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) April 7, 2023
Rantanen also became the first Avalanche player to reach 50 goals since Milan Hejduk, who scored his 50th exactly 20 years ago on Thursday, according to The Athletic’s Peter Baugh.
The 26-year-old tucked in a rebound on a shot from Nathan MacKinnon, who himself scored his 100th point of the season in the 6-2 win over the Sharks. MacKinnon is the first Avalanche player to get 100 since Joe Sakic in 2006-07.
Rantanen would go on to score two more goals in the game to complete the impressive hat trick on Sharks’ Finnish goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen.
“You’re going to think about it,” Avs head coach Jared Bednar said as Rantanen approached his 50th goal. “It’s human nature.”
He’s the fourth player to reach the 50-goal mark this season, following in the footsteps of Edmonton Oilers superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and Boston Bruins sniper David Pastrnak.
“I like the way he plays,” three-time Stanley Cup champion Sidney Crosby said about Rantanen earlier this season, per Baugh. “Seeing how consistent he’s been over his career, it’s not easy. He came in as a pretty young player and has delivered on those expectations for a while.”
Rantanen and the Avalanche have been heating up in recent weeks, winning three in a row and eight of their past 10, and now own sole position of the top spot in the Central Division with five games remaining.
The Fin has been a huge part of that, leading the league with 41 even-strength goals and adding a career-high 98 points on the campaign.
He now joins elite company, and along with Selanne and Jari Kurri, becomes the third Finnish-born player to score 50 in a season.
Mikko Rantanen will try to help the Avs go back-to-back as Stanley Cup champions after the team defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games to win the franchise’s third title in 2022.