NHL Bubble Wrap: Hutchinson comes through again for Avalanche

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  • We will have our first Game 7 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
  • Michael Hutchinson is the surprising star for the Colorado Avalanche in this series right now.
  • There is no stopping Nathan MacKinnon.

Colorado Avalanche 4, Dallas Stars 1 (Series tied 3-3)

Their power play can not score, they are without one of their top defenseman, and they are using their third-string goalie. Through it all, the Colorado Avalanche have still managed to win back-to-back games to tie their series with the Dallas Stars and force a Game 7 on Friday night. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen each had two points in the win, while Cale Makar and Nikita Zadarov also added goals from the blue line. The only concern for the Avalanche right now is the injury concerns continued to mount as Conor Timmins and Gabriel Landeskog both left the game. Landeskog was injured when he was accidentally cut on the leg by Makar’s skate blade.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Three Stars

1. Michael Hutchinson, Colorado Avalanche. This is just a completely wild development in this series. Hutchinson was so bad during the regular season in Toronto that the Maple Leafs couldn’t even use him as a backup, while his save percentage over the past two seasons has been an .888 mark that placed him near the absolute bottom of the league. Of the 71 goalies that have appeared in at least 20 regular season games the past two seasons, Hutchinson ranked 70th in the league. The only goalie with a worse mark has been Calvin Pickard with an .862 mark. There is also the fact that he had never started a playoff game until Game 5 on Monday night. But in his two starts, with the Avalanche facing elimination, he has turned aside 61 out of 65 shots and helped the Avalanche get to Game 7 on Friday.

2. Mikko Rantanen, Colorado Avalanche. Even with Landeskog in the locker room due to injury the Avalanche’s top line still came through. Rantanen assisted on Cale Makar’s second period goal that goes in the books as the game-winner, and then scored a beautiful goal in the third period to help put the game away.

3. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche. Just an unstoppable offensive force right now. He has recorded a point in all 14 Avalanche games this post season, has at least two points in eight of those games, and is already at 25 points in those 14 games. That would be a 145-point pace over 82 games during the regular season.

Highlights of the Night

This was the goal of the night for the Avalanche.

Dallas’ Miro Heiskanen is on his way to being a superstar and scored another goal on Wednesday night, but Colorado has an emerging superstar defenseman of its own in Cale Makar. Here he is scoring the game-winning goal on Wednesday.

Zadarov gets the Avalanche on the board and quickly ties the game after Heiskanen’s early goal.

Factoids

  • MacKinnon’s 14-game point streak is the tied for the second-longest point streak to start a postseason in NHL history. [NHL PR]
  • Hutchinson is the seventh goalie in NHL history to record his first two career playoff wins in games where his team is facing elimination. He will need a third win if he starts on Friday night. [NHL PR]
  • Miro Heiskanen has a seven-game point streak for the Dallas Stars. [NHL PR]

Thursday Schedule

Game 6: Philadelphia Flyers vs. New York Islanders, 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, Livestream (Islanders lead series 3-2)
Game 6: Vegas Golden Knights vs. Vancouver Canucks, 9:45 p.m. ET, NBCSN Livestream (Golden Knights lead series 3-2)

 

MORE STANLEY CUP COVERAGE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

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