Nathan MacKinnon recorded three points as the Colorado Avalanche squeak by the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 in overtime.
The Leafs were on the second game of a back to back and made a surprise move starting Calvin Pickard in net. Curtis McElhinney was scratched due to an undisclosed injury which gave Pickard his first start in a Leafs uniform and his first opportunity against the Avalanche, who he played his entire career with until last night. The 25-year-old was average in his start, making 24 saves. MacKinnon’s goal I’m sure is one he will want back, after not handling the dump in cleanly, but aside from that one, you can’t pin the others on Pickard. The Leafs as a whole really didn’t have much of a jump in this game. They never led once in this game and always was chasing the play, which should not have been the case against the clearly weaker team.
Nazem Kadri did not play in this one, as he was out with an upper body injury, stemming from the game on Thursday where he took an elbow to the head. The Leafs could have used a healthy Kadri tonight, as his line is the main matchup line, and would have had the task of containing Nathan MacKinnon. We have seen Kadri shut down other top centres in the league, and if he was playing, I’m not so sure MacKinnon would have exploded for three points.
You have to credit Colorado’s game in this one. They took advantage of a tired team coming into their arena and played hard. The energy and the pressure of the Avalanche made a tired Toronto team create turnovers and breakdowns in their defensive end. Seymon Varlamov played an important part in the win, making 31 saves for the win. They capitalized on another opportunity in overtime, after Connor Brown hauled down MacKinnon. JT Compher was the overtime hero, scoring with nine second left on the powerplay in overtime.
Performance of the Night:
Nathan MacKinnon earns the performance of the night. MacKinnon was the clear stand out from this game as it seemed that every time he was on the ice the puck found its way to him. MacKinnon makes everyone around him better as both Rantanen’s goal and Kerfoot’s probably wouldn’t have developed if it wasn’t for some slick passing by MacKinnon. MacKinnon was involved in all four goals, with three of them showing up on the score sheet, while the fourth was the fact that he was the one to draw the penalty in overtime. With MacKinnon buried in Colorado, I believe he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves and he was an absolute treat to watch last night.
Again, I didn’t think too much of this game but I knew the Avs would have a chance to keep this game close, because of the Leafs fatigue from the night before. It turned out to be a decent game to watch as the Leafs kept falling behind by one but would continue to pressure to score again. The game never got out of reach which made both teams stay invested throughout. I give this game a 3/5 on the scale.