NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, April 21st (All times Eastern)
Colorado Avalanche (2-0) at Minnesota Wild (0-2), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Wild hope to get themselves back into the Western Conference quarterfinals on home ice, but first they'll have to figure out a way to slow down Nathan MacKinnon.
Down two games to none, the Wild get set to host the Colorado Avalanche in Game 3 of a best-of-seven series Monday at Xcel Energy Center.
MacKinnon, the No. 1 overall pick in last summer's draft, certainly has Minnesota's attention after notching seven points (1 goal, 6 assists) over the first two games of this series. The 18-year-old rookie sensation has matched an NHL record for most points in the first two games of a playoff career, tying Odie Cleghorn (1919, Montreal Canadiens) and Barry Pederson (1982, Boston Bruins).
With a goal and three assists in Saturday's 4-2 win over the Wild, MacKinnon became the second-youngest player in NHL history to record four points in a playoff game. Buffalo's Pierre Turgeon was four days younger than MacKinnon when he had four points on April 10, 1988 vs. Boston.
MacKinnon also became the youngest player in Colorado franchise history to score a goal in the playoffs as his first-period marker tied the game at 1-1. He then helped to set up a pair of goals from Gabriel Landeskog to give his club a 3-1 lead after two periods, and that eventually allowed the Avs notch the win and go up 2-0 on the Wild in the series.
The front runner for the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie, MacKinnon led all freshmen in points with 63 and tied for goals with 24. His postseason play so far is going a long towards making the youngster a bona fide NHL superstar.
MacKinnon is enjoying the ride, but also knows this series is far from over.
"You could see today that they were going to the net more than after the first game," said MacKinnon. "They're not going to roll over in this series It's been a lot of fun, but it's going to be a tough one on Monday. It was a well rounded win, and a pretty emotional game."
Semyon Varlamov stopped 30 shots for Colorado, which is 12-0 all-time in playoff series after going up 2-0. Paul Stastny posted an empty-net goal and three assists.
Stastny and MacKinnon are tied for the NHL scoring lead in these playoffs with seven points apiece. Stastny has three goals and four assists.
Charlie Coyle and Marco Scandella scored for the Wild, who saw starter Ilya Bryzgalov pulled after giving up three goals on 14 shots. Darcy Kuemper performed well in relief, turning away all 14 shots he faced. Kuemper will get the call over Bryzgalov on Monday, giving the 23-year-old his first postseason start.
"It'll be good to be back home and make it uncomfortable for them," said Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo. "We had been able to shut down good players all year, and we've got to change what we're doing here. We're giving them time and space, and we've got to take that away."
Minnesota, which also hosts Game 4 on Thursday, was just 1-3-1 in five games against the Avalanche in 2013-14, and Colorado claimed regulation wins in both meetings in St. Paul.
Colorado forwards Matt Duchene and John Mitchell are with the team in Minnesota, but neither player expects to play in this opening-round series. Duchene has been out since suffering a knee injury on March 29, while Mitchell has missed the last four games dating back to the regular season due to a concussion.
This is the third all-time playoff meeting between the clubs. The Wild won a 2003 conference quarterfinals matchup in seven games, while the Avalanche knocked off Minnesota in six games during the same round in 2008.
04/21 12:10:20 ET