AVALANCHE: MacKinnon leading Avs in assists, but that’s not his goal
Nathan MacKinnon is a natural goal scorer. It just happens that other things are dominating his game early this season.
Through four games, the Avalanche center is still looking for his first goal. But he has a teamhigh four assists, including two primary ones in Wednesday’s 6-3 victory over visiting Boston.
“I really liked his game,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said of MacKinnon after practice Thursday. “We need to produce, and produce through our lineup, and he’s helping that in a big way. His line is scoring right now. He just doesn’t happen to be the guy shooting it in the back of the net.”
MacKinnon, who is centering a line with wingers Sven Andrighetto and Mikko Rantanen, used a backhand saucer pass to set up Nail Yakupov’s one-time slap shot that broke a 1-1 tie against the Bruins. And then on the power play, MacKinnon delivered the pass that resulted in Andrighetto’s goal to make it 3-1.
“The pass he makes to Yakupov broke the game open for us,” Bednar said. “I’m really happy with what he’s doing.”
MacKinnon, 22, played in all 82 games last season, but he produced just 16 goals. In four preseason games, he led Colorado with four goals.
“I think the goals will come. I’ve had some good chances,” MacKinlove non said Thursday. “I’ll start to get the bounces. Everyone else is getting those bounces right now and I’m just happy to be part of it. The game feels good. It’s all about the team winning, and if the assists are going to get the job done, then I’m happy with that. At the end of the day, wins take care of everything.”
Colorado took a 4-1 lead against Boston, which rallied to come within 4-3 in the final eight minutes of Wednesday’s game. MacKinnon said the Bruins’ comeback was a great test for the Avs.
“Last year, we probably would have caved and blew the lead,” he said. “This year, even with the young group, there was no panic and we started dominating again. So that was nice. That’s a big step for us from where we were last year.”
Through four games, Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon is still looking for his first goal.