TAMPA, Fla. — Andrew Cogliano shouted at Nathan MacKinnon in the midst of the Colorado Avalanche’s Stanley Cup celebration.
“87!” he bellowed.
It was a reference to the final two numbers of MacKinnon’s resort place, which Colorado’s star ahead assumed was a wonderful omen when he checked in in advance of Sunday night’s Sport 6 in Tampa. Sidney Crosby, like MacKinnon a indigenous of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, is acknowledged for getting No. 87.
Now MacKinnon is a Stanley Cup winner, just like Crosby.
“We just felt like it was fate,” MacKinnon claimed. “We just knew we have been heading to gain when I obtained that room amount.”
Destiny didn’t assistance MacKinnon sneak a excellent shot earlier 2021 playoff MVP Andrei Vasilevskiy for Colorado’s initial objective or assist him set up Artturi Lehkonen for the second. And fate did not make him slide his entire body in front of shots to retain them from receiving to the net or take a big hit from Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos that knocked him to the ice.
No, it was talent and sheer dedication for a player searching for a championship that experienced eluded him for a number of several years amid playoff disappointments. He was at his greatest in the Cup-clinching 2-1 victory Sunday night. After a fairly quiet general performance in the collection right up until that issue, MacKinnon picked the fantastic time to be a big difference-maker and drove the bus for the Avalanche.
General supervisor Joe Sakic, who drafted MacKinnon with the initially pick in 2013, mentioned this implies every little thing to his to start with-line center.
“He is one of the ideal gamers in the planet, and he desired this a lot more than any one, and you can inform,” Sakic reported. “He’s open up about it how substantially he desires to acquire, and I was really proud for him. He is been great appropriate from when he begun as a rookie. He’s gotten improved and much better each and every yr. A dynamic participant, and you noticed it currently. He checked as hard as when he had the puck.”
MacKinnon at periods played like a gentleman possessed throughout this run, main the Avalanche with 13 ambitions, tied for the playoff guide.
“The maturity of his game about the past pair of seasons and in likely by what we went by way of in the playoffs last yr has kind of pushed him to a distinctive place this yr,” coach Jared Bednar claimed. “He has a superior comprehending and a increasing knowledge of every thing that is taking place around him and that other fellas participate in an important position in our team’s good results and it would not have to normally just come again on him.”
MacKinnon blazed and bulldozed by means of and dangled around a lot of opponents to acquire his to start with championship, including a aim in the title-clinching gain.
“Nate’s like a bull in a china store,” explained Lightning Mentor Jon Cooper, whose crew arrived two victories absent from the NHL’s to start with three-peat due to the fact in the early 1980s. “He plays the electricity game. He’s variety of received that double-edged sword due to the fact he’s seriously quick and he’s genuinely powerful, so it truly is really hard to neutralize him when you genuinely let him go.”
The Avalanche unleashed MacKinnon on Nashville, St. Louis and Edmonton just before that — sweeping the Predators in the initially round and the Oilers in the Western Convention final sandwiched all over beating the rival Blues in 6. And then arrived the Lightning, who ended up vanquished in a terrific series that saw four a single-objective video games (two gained by Colorado in additional time) and a blowout gain for each individual team.
At the conclude, Colorado had the Cup and MacKinnon this time did not have to solution issues about what went mistaken or whether or not he’d will need to change his strategy to acquire in the playoffs.
Alternatively of accomplishing that, MacKinnon ratcheted up his recreation. Even in advance of he scored his first aim of the last, he danced all over defenders with moves a lot more reminiscent of online video video game hockey than real daily life.