Minnesota Wild v Colorado Avalanche - Game Two

MacKinnon, Avs shine against Wild, take 2-0 series lead


Few expected Nathan MacKinnon to match the three assists he generated in helping the Colorado Avalanche win Game 1 against the Minnesota Wild. He didn’t in Game 2; instead, he surpassed that output, generating a beautiful goal and three assists for a four-point masterpiece that is prompting onlookers to throw the words “Hall of Fame” around.

The prodigious 18-year-old may or may not be matching the special things Sidney Crosby did at that same age, but the Avalanche probably don’t care with a 2-0 series lead against the Wild thanks to a 4-2 win. It’s also easy to overlook slightly less sexy storylines; Paul Stastny is having a magical run of his own, as he followed up his Game 1 heroics with a one-goal, three-assist night of his own.

The Wild must be merely happy to move the series back to Minnesota. They might have questions in net after the Avalanche chased Ilya Bryzgalov, but either way, they need to find a way to slow down this Colorado attack.

(Perhaps having the last change and a refuge from the high elevation may do the trick?)

The luckiest group in Game 2 wasn’t the Avalanche, it was the officials. P.A. Parenteau can attest, as he was the centerpiece of two controversial moments in the wild third period. Despite being clearly cut by an errant stick, officials didn’t call a penalty, let alone a double-minor. If that wasn’t enough, some argue that officials botched an offside call that erased a Parenteau empty-netter.

With a Wild goal moments later, what could have been a 4-1 lead was instead a suddenly nervous 3-2 situation. Those with whistles had to be a little relieved that the Wild’s comeback bid fell short, then.

Either way, the Avalanche and their young scorers are riding quite the high right now. It’s up to Minnesota to make a series out of this one starting with Game 3 on Monday.

Vigneault: ‘After three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention’

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Alain Vigneault has maintained for much of the season that the New York Rangers needed to play better.

The head coach said it a week ago, after the Blueshirts had beaten the Predators, 3-0, despite getting outshot, 31-19.

He’d said it a couple of weeks before that, after they’d beaten the Hurricanes in very similar fashion. (Final score: 3-0. Shots: 33-23 for Carolina.)

But as long as the Rangers kept winning, it was tough, according to Vigneault, to get the message across.

“Sometimes, the results might be going your way, so when you’re pointing out certain things, it might be a little bit more challenging for them to understand because the results are so positive,” Vigneault said, per the New York Post.

“But after three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention.”

Derek Stepan‘s injury — he’ll miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs — has no doubt captured their attention as well. (Oscar Lindberg will center Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast tonight at home to Carolina.)

The Rangers also play Wednesday, in Brooklyn against the Islanders (on NBCSN).

Benn, Holtby and Galchenyuk are NHL’s three stars of the week

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Stars winger Jamie Benn, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.

From NHL.com:

Benn shared the League lead in goals (4) and points (6) as the Stars (19-5-0, 38 points) won two of three games to continue their best start to a season in the franchise’s 48-year history.

Holtby posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.75 goals-against average, .945 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Capitals (17-5-1, 35 points) to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings.

Galchenyuk tied for first in the NHL with four goals and added one assist to help the Canadiens (18-4-3, 39 points) earn five of a possible six points and reclaim first place in the League standings.

As much as the injuries to Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher have been frustrating for the Canadiens, those are short-term issues that should be forgotten soon enough. Galchenyuk’s play, in contrast, is reason for long-term optimism. The 21-year-old is trending towards becoming the elite No. 1 center the Habs have needed so badly. He’s not there yet, but when’s all said and done, he could turn out to be the best forward (or player, period) taken in the 2012 draft.

Stepan to miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs


Derek Stepan is out 4-6 weeks with broken ribs, the New York Rangers announced today.

Stepan was hurt Friday on a controversial hit by Boston’s Matt Beleskey. The Bruins’ forward did not receive any supplemental discipline for the check, despite admitting it was “maybe…a little bit late.”

At any rate it’s a big loss for the Rangers, who suddenly find themselves on a three-game losing streak. Considering the timeline, New York could be without one of its top centers for 12-18 games, give or take.

The Rangers host Carolina tonight.

Related: Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’

Price to miss minimum six weeks, so no Winter Classic for him

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Carey Price will miss a minimum of six weeks with a lower-body injury, the Montreal Canadiens announced today.

That means Price will miss the Winter Classic against the Bruins on New Year’s Day. The 28-year-old goalie has only appeared in 12 games this season.

On the bright side, the reigning Hart Trophy winner will not require surgery. And considering the Habs have already built up a 13-point playoff cushion in the standings, well, if something like this were going to happen during the season, now is as good a time as any.

Related: The latest on Price’s injury