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MacKinnon On A Mission: Avalanche Star Leads The Way With Another Four Goal Game In Win



Avalanche MacKinnon

There’s still a lot of season left to go, but at this point, Colorado Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon has to have the Hart Trophy in the bag, right?

On Wednesday night, he put on another performance showcasing that he just might be the best hockey player in the world at the moment.

For the second time this season, MacKinnon put four pucks in the back of the net, hitting 30 goals in the process, and helping his Avalanche take down the Washington Capitals by a score of 6-2. The superstar also managed to add an assist, giving him 82 points on the year, and with another massive game, leapfrogged Nikita Kucherov (again) for the league lead in scoring.

Not to be outdone, Mikko Rantanen added five points of his own, including assists on all of MacKinnon’s goals. In net, Alexandar Georgiev played well, stopping 23 of 25 shots for the win.

First Period

A tired Washington team and a rusty Avalanche team was the perfect combination for a sloppy, ugly period of hockey…until the very end.

The Capitals were gifted two powerplays in the opening period, but did next to nothing with them, as the Avalanche penalty kill gave them very little to work with. That same penalty kill looked a bit rejuvenated with the return of Artturi Lehkonen, who went right back to killing penalties after missing 35 games.

On their second powerplay, which occurred late in the period, a fantastic forecheck by Andrew Cogliano forced the Capitals to turn the puck over. It bounced right to Cale Makar at the defensive blueline, and he wasted no time rushing it up the ice. Washington gave him very little resistance, and he skated into the zone one-on-one with the defender, and beat Lindgren on the glove side, making it 1-0 with just 37 seconds remaining in the period. A nice end to a slow period of hockey.

The second period wouldn’t have that same issue.

Second Period

It feels like the last two months have been the Nathan MacKinnon show, but the second period on Wednesday? That was definitely the Nathan MacKinnon show.

Early in the period, the Avalanche got their first powerplay of the game, and they made the type of mistake you can’t make against Colorado’s man advantage, as they left lanes wide open in the middle of the ice. Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen toyed with the defender at the right point, with Makar eventually getting the puck and hitting a wide open Nathan MacKinnon at the left circle. Lindgren couldn’t get across in time, and it was 2-0.

Five minutes later, Washington took another penalty, and made the same mistake. Again. This time, they might have left even more space in the middle of the ice. Rantanen, with plenty of time at the right circle, hit MacKinnon, who was left alone at the right circle…again. Left alone at the left circle again, MacKinnon scored on an almost identical shot to his first goal, making it 3-0.

He wasn’t done yet.

2:16 later, Washington made a terrible decision off the rush, hoping a cross-ice pass would work. It missed everyone, and the Rantanen-MacKinnon duo was off to the races for a 2-on-1. Rantanen slid a pass through the defenseman, essentially turning it into a MacKinnon breakaway. The Avalanche star deked to his backhand, beat Lindgren, and the hats went flying. With three goals in just 6:37, he had completed the natural hat trick, and we were headed for a blowout.

Colorado did get a little sloppy in their own end to finish off the period, giving the Capitals multiple great scoring chances. Their best opportunity came with Protas all alone in the slot, but Georgiev read the play perfectly, and snagged the shot with his glove.

Third Period

Colorado didn’t come out perfect to start the third period either, as Washington did get some extended shifts in the offensive zone. They ended the shutout 7:26 into the third, as Dylan Strome was left all alone in the slot, and beat Georgiev up high.

What did that mean? Well, that meant the top line got a little more ice-time because the game got a little closer. Just three minutes later, the trio on the top line combined for a very pretty goal, with Rantanen and Drouin combining on a nice give-and-go, ending with the Big Finn tapping home his 27th of the year out of mid-air. MacKinnon picked up an assist on the goal, but did you think he was done?

Both teams exchanged a handful of penalties late, resulting in some 4-on-4 hockey, and again, the Capitals decided that their best move was to just not cover Nathan MacKinnon. The superstar corralled the puck in the high slot and wired home his fourth goal of the game, making it 6-1. At that point, fans had run out of hats, but one person managed to toss their bra onto the ice. An interesting way to celebrate a goal, but MacKinnon’s play this year is eliciting a lot of interesting responses.

Strome added another late goal, but it was too late, and the Avalanche closed out the night with a 6-2 win.

On Friday, they’ll host the Los Angeles Kings before they head into their long break for the All-Star festivities. That game starts at 7 PM MST.

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