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Colorado Avalanche

MacKinnon Puts On A Show In 5-2 Avalanche Win Over Wild




Colorado Avalanche fans are blessed every night to watch star players go to work every night, but I don’t think this city has seen anyone have the season that Nathan MacKinnon is having this year.

After a poor performance on Sunday against the Stars, MacKinnon put the team on his back, picking up his third hat trick of the season and helping the Avalanche bounce back with a 5-2 win over Minnesota. With goals 49, 50, and 51, as well as an assist, MacKinnon now is just two points back of Peter Stastny’s franchise record for points in a season. With three games remaining, that record is very much in danger.

Jonathan Drouin picked up three assists of his own to set a new career high in points, while Cale Makar added three points. Alexandar Georgiev stopped 20 of 22 shots for the win, and settled down after giving up two late goals in the first period.

First Period

Fresh off a game where the Avalanche did a lot of “absurd” things defensively, the home team got off to a really strong start. It helps that they were given two powerplays early to get into a groove. The first one didn’t connect, but they got an opportunity to go right back to work, and took advantage.

Just 30 seconds into the powerplay, a Cale Makar point shot created some chaos around the net. Nathan MacKinnon corralled the puck on the rebound, and all eyes (understandably) went to him. Rather than shoot, he dished it to Artturi Lehkonen, who was left wide open in the slot for an easy one-time goal.

From that point on, it was the Nathan MacKinnon show.

Defense leads to offense, and the Avalanche did not play well defensively the other night. At 5-on-5 Tuesday, they were elite defensively, and the second goal was proof of that. Colorado kept the Wild to the outside, and sent a wing and a prayer shot towards the net. Cale Makar blocked it, Jonathan Drouin picked it up, and just left it for MacKinnon. He did the rest.

MacKinnon burst past Jonas Brodin, and at that point, Zach Bogosion was in trouble. He waited too long to pivot, and MacKinnon was past him. The star beat Gustavsson on the glove side, making it 2-0. It was all Avalanche…until they got themselves in some penalty trouble.

Colorado gave the Wild life with two penalties in the final 10 minutes, both of which the Wild scored on. Those two goals made it five consecutive penalties the Avalanche had failed to kill off. A troubling stat this late in the year, but things were corrected later in the game.

Second Period

Colorado also has that Cale Makar guy, and he had himself a pretty solid game. At 6:15 of the second, he showed off the skating that makes him so special, creating a lane for himself like no one else in the league. He took advantage of a tired Wild squad, creating space for himself in the offensive zone and sending a screened shot past Gustavsson to make it 3-2. With the goal, Makar broke his own record for points in a season by a defenseman with 87. Not bad for someone having an “average” year, in his own words.

A minute later, a frustrated MacKinnon, who felt he had been hooked and held a bit too much, took an unsportsmanlike penalty for something he said to the refs. That only made him stronger.

After coming out of the box, he was a man on a mission. Goal #50 came on an absolutely absurd pass from Jonathan Drouin, who went behind-the-back to hit MacKinnon in stride in the neutral zone. Brock Faber gave up chasing him, leaving Middleton to fend for himself. He was too late getting over, and MacKinnon beat Gustavsson on the blocker side to make it 4-2. When the goal was announced, the fans went nuts, breaking out in “MVP!” chants. That happened a few times on Friday, and for good reason.

Four minutes later, MacKinnon went turbo-mode, picking up a puck in the defensive zone and flying past Middleton (again). Gustavsson probably knew what shot was coming, but when a guy is moving that fast, you never know when he’ll release it. He didn’t this time, as MacKinnon beat him on the glove side again to complete the hat trick and make it 5-2. The fans showered the ice with hats for the third time this season.

Third Period

The game was over at this point. Minnesota, with their playoff hopes on the line, mustered up just five shots on goal in the third period, all of which were stopped by Alexandar Georgiev.

With the 5-2 win, the Avalanche hold onto second place in the Central ahead of their massive matchup with the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. That game starts at 2 PM MST.

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