Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon almost scored a hat trick, but he unselfishly tried to get one for a teammate instead.
The Colorado Avalanche experienced a sea of Chicago Blackhawks red at Pepsi Center, but last night it was a sign of the visiting team hemorrhaging. Chicago going down 5-0 halfway through a game will do that to a bandwagon fan base — shut them up.
Part of the scoring was center Nathan MacKinnon getting two goals. He broke out of a scoring slump that had seen him record only a flukey goal earlier in the year. Literally, he didn’t mean to score:
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He was trying to pass the puck to Mikko Rantanen on the far side of the net, and it happened to bounce off a Nashville Predators player and go in.
The two goals MacKinnon scored against the Chicago Blackhawks were deliberate. Nate was buzzing around the ice all night.
The first goal came after linemate Rantanen had opened scoring early in the first period, a goal that MacKinnon earned an assist on. The Colorado Avalanche were on a power play after Blackhawks defenseman Jan Rutta earned a penalty for tripping Rantanen.
The Avalanche actually had given up a scoring chance on their power play, but goalie
(who made a total of 40 saves last night) stopped it — with a little help from the post.
— who blessedly didn’t suffer a concussion from that vicious
hit — corralled the puck and drove up the ice with it. He found MacKinnon, who proceeded to send the puck top shelf for a beautiful, clean goal:
Don’t get me wrong. My mantra has always been that ugly goals count the same as pretty ones. However, it’s nice to see one of those beauties from a skill player like MacKinnon.
That goal put the Avalanche up 2-0.
MacKinnon’s second goal came early in the second after Rantanen had scored again. That’s a nice little tandem — Mikko-Nate-Mikko-Nate goals. The second goal came as a result of a different tandem, though — MacKinnon and captain Gabriel Landeskog.
MacKinnon carried the puck out of the Avs zone but passed it to Landeskog as the duo skated up the ice. Landeskog carried the puck into the Hawks’ zone and drove the net, firing off a shot that Chicago goalie Anton Forsberg stopped. He gave up the rebound, though, which Landeskog deftly collected and passed to MacKinnon.
Who did this:
Nathan MacKinnon just batted it right in. Because he was driving the net, too, he was in a position to tip it in.
The Colorado Avalanche also got goals from Sven Andrighetto and Rocco Grimaldi, who was a call up after the original call up, Gabriel Bourque, went down with an injury in Las Vegas. Colorado also allowed three Blackhawk goals. So, in the waning two minutes of the game, the Avalanche were up 6-3 with an empty Chicago net.
Both Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon were on the ice as the game wound down. Colorado got possession of the puck and skated for the empty net with a swarm of Blackhawks players around them. MacKinnon had the puck and an empty net in front of him. However, instead of taking the shot and earning a hat trick, he passed it to Rantanen, who also had the possibility of a hat trick.
Nathan MacKinnon was praised as being “classy” for that unselfish act. It is classy, especially from an alternate captain to a younger teammate. That shows good teamwork and a continuation of the kind of support that saw MacKinnon fight Brayden McNabb after his dirty hit on Alexander Kerfoot.
However, MacKinnon only has three goals in 11 games this year. He’s supposed to be the team’s best player, and it’s no accident that his best game resulted in a decisive Colorado Avalanche victory. So, I guess I wish MacKinnon had shown the same goal hunger from his first NHL hat trick, when he remarked that he had tipped in a Ryan O’Reilly shot that may have been going in and giggled, “But I tipped it in anyway.”
I’m glad MacKinnon is a team player. I’m glad he’s showing leadership. I just want him to show hunger for winning — and to get in the habit of taking the shot when he has the clear goal.