Nathan MacKinnon. That’s it, that’s the article.
The Dogg beat the Ottawa Senators nearly singlehandedly for the Colorado Avalanche, as a wild matchup ends in a 6-4 final. Mack is the first member of the Avalanche to score four goals in a single game, just another example of how spectacular he has been.
Thursday night’s game is just the most recent addition to wild matchups between these two teams. Since 2021, at least one time has scored five goals when they’ve played one another, leading to high-scoring affairs. The two teams have combined for 49 goals in their last five matchups, with the Avs winning four of the last five against the Sens.
Cale Makar almost welcomed himself back to the team in a great way when he just couldn’t finish a cross-ice pass from Nathan MacKinnon through traffic. But, MacKinnon would be sure to take care of it himself, capitalizing on an Angus Crookshank (an awesome hockey name by the way) hooking penalty.
It was all part of a dominant opening 10 minutes for Colorado, as they had 11 shots in the game already. But, they would slow down and eventually let Ottawa back into the game.
It started with a Sam Malinski cross-checking penalty, leading to a wide-open net for Josh Norris to convert on when the Avs lost their defensive shape. Just 15 seconds later, a wild bouncing puck found the stick of Ridly Greig who put it home to take the lead.
The Sens lead would only last three minutes, however. That is because MacKinnon would record career goal 300 right in front and even it up heading into the room.
Ottawa would be sure to get themselves on the front foot early in the period. They would do so thanks to Jacob Bernard-Decker shooting a puck through traffic, which deflected off the twig of Makar and behind Alexandar Georgiev.
The Avs had a nice response afterward from the likes of Sam Malinski and Fredrik Olofsson, but their momentum would quickly be washed away. Joel Kiviranta tripped Norris, and the Sens would have all the momentum on a power play only stopped by Georgiev.
While Georgiev made some solid saves to keep the game within one, he would lose it himself. On a goal he’ll want back, Drake Batherson managed to find a chink in the armor when the Avs netminder just couldn't stop all of the puck with his arm and it flopped into the net to double Ottawa’s lead.
Jack Johnson nearly cost the game in the frame when he took a cross-checking penalty himself but owes Georgiev a drink when he stopped Vladimir Tarasenko on the goal line. Luckily, at the other end, Colorado would take charge on a Parker Kelly slashing penalty where Mikko Rantanen found the gaping net in the dying seconds to cut the lead to one heading into the intermission.
The first line showed up and showed out for the period from their first shift and beyond. Eventually, the first power play unit would make the Senators pay for a Batherson interference penalty. Take a wild guess of who scored.
MacKinnon’s goal is the first hat trick of the season for the Avalanche. It came with some hearts in throats as Ottawa challenged the goal for offsides, but failed. This benefitted the Avs massively as MacKinnon’s shot-pass would be deflected in by Rantanen to then give Colorado the lead.
After a solid kill thanks to a Josh Manson slashing penalty, Jonathan Drouin nearly put the game out of reach with an amazing no-look backhand flip right in front but it just hit the crossbar. They would need to do so again with Sam Malinski tripping up a man after giving the puck up, succeeding in this case too.
For a third time in the frame, a kill was needed due to a Manson tripping penalty he took at the end of a nearly two-minute shift. The penalty killers came through yet again, and Georgiev made some incredible saves. MacKinnon would finish it off with a fourth goal of the game into an empty net and put the game to bed with a 6-4 final after all the penalties.
While MacKinnon and Rantanen were the stars of the show, a special star and shoutout should be given to the Avs netminder. While he will certainly want the fourth goal by Batherson back, he rebounded well and gave the Avs a chance when they were down two goals. He stood tall in the third period when Ottawa had all the chances in the world, and in the end, stopped 41 of 45 shots. He had more help in front of him than usual with the return of Makar from injury but did a lot to keep his team in it all game long.
However, he was called into action plenty in yet another lackluster second period for Colorado. They continue to lapse into bad habits in the middle frame and put themselves into holes on a nightly basis. They did the same in the second half of the first period as well. But, they have their stars to thank along with their special teams. The Avs went 4-of-5 on the man advantage and killed off 5-of-6 penalties for Ottawa, including three straight in quick succession in the second half of the third period.
As mentioned at the beginning of this piece, these two teams just seem to have wacky games whenever they’ve played each other the last few years. Our own Jackie Kay said it on this week’s Mile High Hockey Lab podcast episode, and it was reflected in this one once again. With this 6-4 final, the madness continues. The recent results between these two teams dating back to 2021 include 7-5, 7-0, 5-4, and 6-4 wins for the Avalanche, and a 6-5 win for the Senators. Some of the highlights from these games include Alex Newhook’s late winner in the 7-5 final, and Jonas Johansson’s massive last-second save last season in Canada’s capital for the 5-4 win. Who knows what is in store then when these two play in Ottawa later this season?
Colorado wraps up before the holiday break with the first of two straight with the Arizona Coyotes in a home-and-home series. Puck drop on Saturday night is at 7:00 p.m. MT.