MacKinnon’s ‘hunger’ driving playoff point streak with Avs

Peter DeBoer was pretty happy when Nathan MacKinnon had a single point in Game 3 of his team’s series against MacKinnon’s Colorado Avalanche.

“If we can keep him to one (point) a night, I’ll take that every night in this series,” the San Jose Sharks coach said.

The Sharks picked up the victory on Tuesday, taking a 2-1 series lead after the latest episode of Logan Couture Theatre. But MacKinnon sure put the fear in the Sharks at one point.

The slow-motion replay can barely pick up the puck. The goal also sparked the Avs’ comeback from a 2-0 deficit in the game. But it was his only point of the game, so DeBoer’s wishes came true.

They won’t every night though.

MacKinnon has recorded a point in seven straight games since the Avs were blanked in Game 1 of their Round 1 series against the Calgary Flames. MacKinnon’s heater is the longest playoff streak by an Avs player since Peter Forsberg in 2004. Forsberg is also the last Avs player to run a postseason streak to eights games (2002).

“He’s got a hunger to his game right now, and he’s working at the point of the puck and he’s working away from it,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “He wants the puck. He’s one of those guys, he is trying to get available and working for the puck all the time because he wants it. He wants to be a difference-maker. We need a few more guys to follow suit with that.”

Playing at nearing a two-point-per-game pace since Game 1 last round, MacKinnon has been electric and shares the lead in playoff scoring with four others, including Couture, at 12 points.

Truth is, every time MacKinnon touches the puck and has some space, it’s a hold-your-breath-type moment. And he’s creating all sorts of scoring chances.

The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun did a quick poll of fellow NHL superstars and, well, MacKinnon is the man they’re all watching.

“My favorite player to watch right now is MacKinnon,” Patrick Kane said.

“He’s dominating,” added fellow Cole Harbour native Sidney Crosby.

 [NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

“MacKinnon is probably the most fun to watch right now,” Connor McDavid explained.

MacKinnon will certainly be a key to Game 4 success for the Avs (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN). But there’s a lot to clean up from Tuesday’s game, Bednar said.

“We made some bonehead decisions with the puck, too, at times,” he said. “The bulk of their scoring chances come off turnover plays and mismanaging the puck and just poor execution.”

Finding some success on the power play will help, too. The Avs were 0-for-4 in that department in Game 3 and Bednar wasn’t holding back his opinion of what the man-advantage looked like for Colorado.

“It was bad,” he said. “It was bad through the neutral zone… it’s pretty obvious for us as a team after looking at the video what we need to do. Our execution was poor. Our support was poor. We just didn’t make the right decisions with the puck in the neutral zone.”

Colorado has never come back from a series where they’ve trailed 3-1 (like their power play in Game 3, they’re 0-for-4 in that scenario).

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

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