Nathan MacKinnon doesn’t turn 19 until September 1st, but the outstanding rookie put on a show that will be remembered for a long time as he led the Colorado Avalanche to a 4-2 win and home sweep of the opening two games of their series with the Minnesota Wild.
MacKinnon had 3 assists in the series opener, but he did one better in game 2 by scoring the Avs’ first goal on a highlight reel rush and then adding 3 more assists in spectacular fashion to put the Avs in the driver’s seat heading to Minnesota.
The Wild went up 1-0 after Semyon Varlamov turned aside Mikko Koivu‘s shot but deflected in off Charlie Coyle. MacKinnon answered that one quickly, carrying the puck through the neutral zone at full speed and going inside-out on Jared Spurgeon, the NHL equivalent of an Allen Iverson crossover making the Wild blueliner land on his butt. MacKinnon finished the play off with a wrist shot that Ilya Bryzgalov still hasn’t seen.
In the second period it was showtime as Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog scored back to back goals, both started with plays by MacKinnon. The first one MacKinnon carried the puck into the Wild end and put a behind the back blind pass on the stick of Landeskog to give the Avs the lead. Then Tyson Barrie put a cross-ice pass to MacKinnon in the neutral zone behind MacKinnon. It didn’t matter, as he reached behind him and drew it up through his feet before carrying it into the Wild zone and putting a drop pass to Paul Stastny, whose spin-o-rama pass went right on the stick of Landeskog again for a quick shot that beat Bryzgalov and sent him to the bench in favor of Darcy Kuemper.
Marco Scandella got the Wild close with a shorthanded goal with just under 2 minutes left, but on the same power play MacKinnon outmuscled Jonas Brodin in the Wild zone along the boards and got the puck to Stastny who had an empty net to ice the game.
MacKinnon’s 7 points in his first 2 playoff games is a ridiculous total, and it isn’t the amount of points but the nature and timing of the plays that is truly sensational. He had assists on the tying goal late in the third and the OT winner in game 1, and his performance in game 2 was off the charts.
The Wild will try to get back into the series on Monday when they host game 3.