He’s doesn’t much care for the nickname but Nate the Great is indeed that.
Nathan MacKinnon reached Avalanche legendary status at age 25 on Tuesday night by assisting on two goals in Colorado’s 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.
MacKinnon’s 499th and 500th career points made him the fourth player in club history to reach 500, joining Joe Sakic, Milan Hejduk and Peter Forsberg. Hejduk produced all of his 805 points in an Avalanche sweater; Sakic (1,641) and Forsberg (755) also played for the Quebec Nordiques before they moved to Colorado.
“It’s pretty cool. I probably should have got there soon, but obviously, it’s a cool milestone — 500 points in the NHL is not an easy thing to achieve,” MacKinnon said. “I had some great players play with me all along the way. It’s always fun getting points but it’s obviously more about winning, for sure.”
MacKinnon, who is the first player from his 2013 draft class to reach 500 points, had the secondary assist on Brandon Saad’s first-period goal before directly setting up Mikko Rantanen’s power-play goal in the second period to give the Avs a 3-0 lead. Colorado went ahead 2-0 on Devon Toews’ power-play goal less than two minutes before Rantanen’s goal.
The Avs had a goal disallowed early in the third period when Rantanen skated into goalie Calvin Peterson while hunting down a rebound from MacKinnon’s shot. The puck crossed the line and if would have counted MacKinnon likely would have got the goal after it caromed in off a Kings’ skate.
“They were very important,” MacKinnon said of the two quick power-play goals. “We had a great start to the game. Could have a few early. I think I had one called back. It’s just unfortunate but our power play has stepped up the last two games and we need that to keep rolling.”
The Kings finally put a puck behind goalie Philipp Grubauer at 7:50 of the third period and then scored a power-play goal at 14:22 to get within a goal. Andreas Athanasiou used a wrist shot off the crossbar to give L.A. new life and Adrian Kempe’s goal with Nazem Kadri serving a high-sticking minor made it interesting in the final five minutes.
Colorado finished 2-of-6 on the power play and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill. The Kings outshot the Avs 25-24.
“I liked our first period a lot. I thought we were doing some real good things,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “In the second we tried to do a little too much — we had too many turnovers in the O-zone blue line and had some odd-man rushes against but we cleaned it up in the third. To be honest with you, I was pretty happy with our third.”
The Avalanche will remain in L.A. and face the Kings in the finale of the two-game series on Thursday. Colorado’s four-game road trip goes through Anaheim on Friday and Sunday against the Ducks at Honda Center.
Footnotes. MacKinnon is closing in on Sakic’s club record for consecutive shots. MacKinnon now has a shot in 223 consecutive games, just four behind Sakic’s run of 227 from 1995-99. MacKinnon has led the NHL in shots the last two seasons. … Avs forward Andre Burakovsky was scratched because of an undisclosed injury and backup goalie Pavel Francouz also wasn’t healthy to be in the lineup. Both suffered injuries in Monday’s practice, with Francouz’s ailment forcing him to leave the ice early. Third-string goalie Hunter Miska backed up Grubauer and Colorado went with just 11 forwards to accommodate an extra defenseman. … Erik Johnson and Dennis Gilbert made their season debuts on the blue line, with Gilbert replacing Ian Cole after the latter was traded to the Minnesota Wild after Tuesday’s morning skate at Staples Center. Defenseman Greg Pateryn, who was acquired for Cole, was added to Colorado’s roster but did not make the lineup.
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