MacKinnon’s Hat Trick Lifts Avalanche to 2-0 Series Lead Over Blues

The Colorado Avalanche got the start they wanted, but when the St. Louis Blues threatened, Colorado’s superstar took over.

Nathan MacKinnon scored Colorado’s first playoff hat trick in more than 24 years, and Joonas Donskoi scored twice as the Avalanche rolled to a 6-3 victory on Wednesday. The Avs racked up 2 goals on 19 shots in the first period. The win gave them a 2-0 lead in the series.

Here are three takeaways from Colorado’s win on Wednesday:

MacKinnon Stays Sharp

Fresh off two goals and an assist on Game 1, MacKinnon continued his tear in the playoffs. He bettered his prior effort with three goals and an assist on Wednesday, including what proved to be the game-winner.

His power-play goal late in the first period made it 2-0 after 20 minutes, and he assisted on Donskoi’s second tally. MacKinnon’s second goal came late in the third on a slick wrister that made it 4-2 with 4:35 to play. He added an empty netter with 11.9 seconds to play for the hat trick – Colorado’s first playoff hat trick since April 24, 1997, when Valeri Kamensky did it against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon
Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

MacKinnon has registered at least a point in 16 of his last 17 playoff games, racking up 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists) during that stretch. The only game in that span where he didn’t score a point was Colorado’s Game 7 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars in the second round of last year’s playoffs.

Wednesday’s contest was the 42nd playoff game of MacKinnon’s career. He has at least a point in 31 of them. He’s been the engine for the Avalanche all season, leading the team in assists with 45, and finishing second on the team in points with 65 – one point behind Mikko Rantanen.

MacKinnon hit 60 playoff points in his career on Wednesday. It came in his 42nd playoff game, one game longer than it took Joe Sakic to reach that mark. MacKinnon is averaging 1.452 points per game in the postseason for his career. Only Wayne Gretzky (1.837) and Mario Lemieux (1.607) have a higher career average per playoff game in NHL history.

Donskoi Heats Up

Donskoi scored goals in the final two games of the regular season, helping the Avalanche wrap up the Presidents’ Trophy. He didn’t score a goal in Game 1 against the Blues, but he made up for it in Game 2 on Wednesday.

Donskoi scored two goals – both off of deflections – to set the tone for the victory. He didn’t waste much time, either. Donskoi’s first goal came just 35 seconds into the game as he tipped in a blast by Ryan Graves from the top of the left circle. His second goal came on the power play in the second period, knocking in a rocket from MacKinnon off his knee and past Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington on the power play.

Joonas Donskoi Colorado Avalanche
Joonas Donskoi, Colorado Avalanche (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The influx of goals from Donskoi is something the Avalanche will welcome, and it’s also something they’ve been waiting for. After scoring a hat trick in Colorado’s 9-3 lambasting of the Arizona Coyotes on March 31, Donskoi went 14 games without scoring a goal. The scoring almost completely disappeared during that stretch, as he tallied just one assist.

Donskoi was sharp for much of the season for the Avalanche, finishing with 17 goals. Only the three members of Colorado’s top line – Rantanen (30), Gabriel Landeskog (20) and MacKinnon (20) – scored more goals. The 17 goals were also a career-high, breaking the previous mark of 16 goals he scored last season – his first with the Avalanche.

Avalanche Special Teams on Point

The Avalanche power play has been making the Blues pay. Colorado scored one goal on the man advantage in Game 1, and went 2-for-2 in Wednesday’s tilt. The three power-play goals in the two games were also scored by three different players. The man advantage ballooned the lead on Wednesday, as goals from Donskoi and MacKinnon came with the man advantage and lifted the Avs to a 3-0 lead.

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Colorado didn’t take a penalty through the first two periods, but took a couple in the third. One of them was nasty, and led to a five-minute power play for the Blues. Nazem Kadri took the major penalty with 13:29 remaining in the third, leaving his feet to hit Justin Faulk in the head, and was ejected from the game.

Devon Toews Colorado Avalanche
Devon Toews, Colorado Avalanche (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Brayden Schenn was able to solve the Avalanche penalty kill to trim Colorado’s lead to 3-2, but the short-handed unit for the Avs was able to hold the Blues to just one goal on the five-minute advantage. The first two minutes of the penalty were spent in the Colorado zone before Devon Toews blocked a shot and Graves was able to clear.

Game 3 of the series is set for Friday in St. Louis. The teams split the four games in St. Louis this season, and the Blues outscored the Avalanche 14-12.

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