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Magical MacKinnon: Avalanche Superstar Dazzles With Four Goals In Comeback Win



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At this point, we’re running out of ways to describe the play of Colorado Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon. Stupendous. Wonderful. Insane. Magical.

Right now, the rest of his team should be one word – grateful.

The Avalanche star scored four goals for the first time in his career, and the first time in the history of the franchise since moving to Colorado, leading the home team to a 6-4 victory over the Ottawa Senators. In addition to four goals, MacKinnon added an assist. Mikko Rantanen scored the other two, as Colorado is being carried by just a handful of players right now. Doesn’t seem very sustainable, but right now, they just need the points.

Alexandar Georgiev gave up four goals, but made several incredible saves, and was dynamite in what Jared Bednar described as a “terrible” second period. He finished the night with 41 saves.

First Period

If you were looking for a positive response from the Avalanche to start the game, you got it, but in typical Colorado fashion, it didn’t last very long.

Colorado came out flying, dictating the pace of play and looking like the Avalanche of old. The defensemen were involved early and often, and most of the play was spent in the Ottawa zone. That pace led to Ottawa taking an early penalty, and the hottest player in the NHL went to work.

After some beautiful puck movement around the zone, Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon worked a perfect give-and-go, ending with MacKinnon one-timing a puck past Korpisalo. Colorado kept pushing and pushing, but couldn’t find that second goal to give them some breathing room.  The first time they slipped up, Ottawa made them pay.

With Sam Malinski in the box for cross-checking, Ottawa broke down the Avalanche penalty kill, and Josh Norris was left wide open at the right face-off circle, making it 1-1. Just 15 seconds later, Ridly Greig scored on one of the flukiest goals you will see, as the puck rolled up and over Devon Toews’ head and landed on the stick of Grieg, making it 2-1.

Just like that, Colorado’s strong start was erased. Luckily for them, MacKinnon had another one in him.

With under two minutes left in the first, an offensive zone face-off win by MacKinnon led to possession for Colorado. Makar dumped it into the corner, and Valeri Nichushkin won a battle against his defender. He fed a wide open MacKinnon in the slot, who corralled the pass, moved it to his forehand, and beat Korpisalo on a pretty weak shot, tying the game.

Colorado probably deserved a better fate, as they outshot the Senators 19-9, but that ultimately doesn’t matter in hockey.

Second Period

Maybe the biggest battle this season has been the Colorado Avalanche vs. the second period. On Thursday, that battle continued, and the Avalanche are not winning that fight.

Just 1:32 into the period, Cale Makar would find the back of the net. The bad news was that it came for the wrong team. Ryan Johansen lost a face-off in the defensive zone, and Bernard-Docker sent a soft wrist shot through traffic from the point. It deflected off Makar’s stick and right through Georgiev’s legs, giving Ottawa the lead.

Although he had given up three goals at this point, it wasn’t really Georgiev’s fault. In fact, he kind of kept the game close in the second. The Avalanche were incredibly sloppy in the neutral zone, giving up a handful of odd-man rushes, but Georgiev stopped most of them. The issue is that the next goal that got past him is probably one he wants back.

After a failed Avalanche powerplay, the Senators were handed a 3-on-2 the other way. The puck got to Drake Batherson at the left circle, and he fired a wrist shot that essentially hit the center of the net. The problem was that Georgiev slid a little too far to the right, and it went right over his glove. Ottawa now had a two goal lead.

Georgiev tried to make up for that one, as he made two crazy left pad saves on an Ottawa powerplay to keep it just a two goal lead. Colorado got a powerplay late, and to call it chaotic might be putting it lightly.

The Avalanche gave up multiple odd-man rushes to the Senators with the man advantage, but Ottawa couldn’t take advantage of it. At the other end, Rantanen hit the post with a shot off the rush. It looked like Ottawa was going to get out of the period with the two goal lead, but a bit of luck finally came Colorado’s way.

Korpisalo made a nice stop on a MacKinnon one-timer, and Bernard-Docker went to clear it. Instead of sending it down the ice, he somehow cleared it right onto the stick of Rantanen, who beat Korpisalo over his glove.

The Avalanche were handed a gift. Would it even make a difference?

Third Period

It sure did.

The leg of Valeri Nichushkin may have saved the game for the Avalanche.

On their fourth powerplay of the night, the hat trick was completed. But for a minute, it sure didn’t look like it.

MacKinnon, right on the left half wall, used the Senators defenseman as a screen, and beat Korpisalo on the short side, tying the game at four. With hats drowning out the ice, no one seemed to be aware that the Senators had challenged the goal for offsides.

And boy was it close.

Nichushkin stretched his leg as far back as humanly possible and just barely stayed onside, but the reality is, the play was likely too close to call. Because it was called a goal on the ice, the play stood as a goal, which meant another powerplay. And with the building going crazy, the stars did it again.

MacKinnon, up high at the right point, sent a pass down low to Rantanen. Mikko, as he loves to do, deflected it right towards the net, and Korpisalo was not ready for it at all, getting beat on the short side and giving Colorado the lead.

From that point on, it was the Georgiev show. The Avalanche netminder came up huge in the third period, as Colorado took not one, not two, but three penalties after taking the lead. It ultimately didn’t matter, because Georgiev turned into a brick wall.

With the net empty, MacKinnon added his fourth of the night, sending the fans home happy with a 6-4 victory.

It wasn’t pretty, but the home team got the job done and got the two points. They’ll have one more opportunity for two points before the Christmas break, as they host the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night.

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