AVALANCHE: MacK­in­non lead­ing Avs in as­sists, but that’s not his goal

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Mike Cham­bers Mike Cham­bers: mcham­bers@den­ver­post.com or @mikecham­bers

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.”

Seth McCon­nell, The Den­ver Post

Through four games, Avalanche cen­ter Nathan MacK­in­non is still look­ing for his first goal.

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