MacKinnon helps Avs to 4
Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92), from Sweden, celebrates his goal against the Minnesota Wild with teammates Paul Stastny (26) and Nathan MacKinnon (29) in the second period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey first round playoff series on Saturday, April 19, 2014, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Teenager Nathan MacKinnon is growing up fast. Almost as fast as he skates.
The speedy 18 year old delivered another stellar performance for the Colorado Avalanche, scoring his first NHL postseason goal and dishing out three assists in a 4 2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night.
The baby faced forward, who was the No. 1 pick last summer, anchored a line that has propelled the Avalanche to a 2 0 lead in the series. MacKinnon, Gabe Landeskog and Paul Stastny combined for all four goals and six assists Saturday.
“That line was on fire tonight,” Avs coach Patrick Roy said. “They were moving the puck really well, skating well.”
That’s because the Wild simply couldn’t catch up to MacKinnon, who zipped through their defense. He now has seven points in the series.
“The skills he’s got, the way he skates I haven’t seen anything like it,” said Landeskog, who scored twice.
MacKinnon lives in the basement of Jean Sebastien Giguere’s house and car pools to work with the backup goaltender every day. And while he may not play like a kid, away from the rink, well, that’s a different story.
“You realize he’s 18,” said Stastny, who had a goal and three assists. “He’s hungry, that’s what makes him a good player. He doesn’t rely on his skill.”
The kid has certainly been clutch and having a good time, too. He’s feeling no pressure.
“Everybody’s having a blast because we’re winning,” MacKinnon said.
A game the Avalanche seemed to have well in hand turned a little tense late in the third. Parenteau thought he’d given the Avalanche a 4 1 lead when he scored an empty net goal.
Only, he was ruled offsides by the linesman on what appeared to be a wrong call.
Then with 1:19 remaining, Marco Scandella made it a one goal game.
No worries, though, Stastny quickly sealed it in the waning seconds remaining when he scored an empty netter off a feed from MacKinnon, of course.
Not that the Avs were overly concerned, given the way Semyon Varlamov was playing. He finished with 30 saves.
“He was huge,” Stastny said. “That’s stuff we expect from him. We feel bad we let them score that second one.”
Landeskog’s second goal of the game gave Colorado a 3 1 lead with 8:01 remaining in the second and led the Wild to pull erratic starter Ilya Bryzgalov. Backup Darcy Kuemper stopped all 14 shots he faced, possibly opening up a goaltender controversy.
This was the first time Kuemper’s played since March 27 due to adidas superstar an upper body injury.
Asked if he will be starter as the series shifts to Minnesota for Game 3 on Monday, Kuemper said: “I’ll have to wait and see, but I hope so. It’s playoff hockey, so you want to play.”
Wild coach Mike Yeo didn’t address the issue after the game, saying only, “(Kuemper) looked great. . So for him to get in and get that opportunity, it was good.”
Varlamov bottled up the Wild most of the night to help Colorado hold serve at home. The Avs are 12 0 in playoff series when capturing the first two contests since relocating to the Mile High City in 1995 adidas superstar 96.
In the opening game, Colorado rallied for a 5 4 win when Stastny scored the tying goal with 13.4 seconds remaining and then the OT winner.
This t adidas superstar ime, no late game theatrics were necessary. No bold decisions by coach Patrick Roy, either.
Roy kept the line of Landeskog, Stastny and MacKinnon adidas superstar together. No surprise, really, since the trio shined since being paired late in Game 1.