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7:00 PM PT8:00 PM MT9:00 PM CT10:00 PM ET2:00 GMT10:00 7:00 PM MST9:00 PM EST6:00 UAE (+1)22:00 ETNaN:� BRT, October 13, 2018
Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado  Attendance: 17,334

MacKinnon, Avalanche off to hot start, face Flames next

Calgary Flames at Colorado Avalanche

  1. The Flames have won five of the last six against the Avalanche, outscoring them by a combined 24-14. Ten of those 24 goals came on the power play, their most power play goals against any single opponent since 2016-17.
  2. The Flames lost on the road to St. Louis, 5-3, without any player recording more than a single point in the game. Three skaters scored their first goal of the season and the Flames have now had 10 different players score a goal this season, tied for most in the NHL (also the Senators and Canucks).
  3. The Avalanche defeated the Sabres on Thursday, 6-1, and have started 3-1-0 for the third consecutive season. Colorado is second in the NHL in total goal differential (17-9) and is one of only five teams with a positive goal differential in every period (also the Stars, Kings, Devils and Capitals).
  4. Mikko Rantanen had his third career game with three assists in the win over Buffalo. He has an assist in each game this season and has 61 since the start of last season, fourth most in the Western Conference.
  5. Nathan MacKinnon scored two goals against the Sabres and now has a goal in every game this season. Only Auston Matthews (9) and John Tavares (6) have more goals than MacKinnon (5).
  6. After scoring only six goals all of last season, Colin Wilson already has three goals this season, including one against Buffalo on Thursday. He is averaging just under 12 minutes of time on ice per game this season, lowest among players with at least three goals this season.

Nathan MacKinnon was a legitimate MVP candidate last spring but finished second to Taylor Hall of the New Jersey Devils in the voting.

Had he gotten off to a faster start in 2017-18, the Colorado Avalanche center might have won the Hart Trophy over Hall.

He won't have to worry about a slow start to this season hurting his chances. After scoring just one goal in his first 10 games last year, MacKinnon has five goals in the first four games this year. He scored two in Colorado's 6-1 win at Buffalo on Thursday night, and he hopes to keep the momentum going when the Avalanche host the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.

It took MacKinnon 15 games last year to get his fifth goal and he still finished with a career-high 39. After putting in a lot of work in the offseason, 39 goals looks like a low number or MacKinnon.

"It's always nice to get off to a good start," he told reporters after Thursday's win. "It takes some pressure off you, for sure. You get a few on the board quick and early. Last year wasn't a great start for me, but I got going. Hopefully, I can continue this momentum for the whole season."

The Avalanche (3-1) hope their fast start overall can continue and prove the loss in Columbus was a blip. They responded with a big win over the Sabres, now they have one home game before heading back on the road for four more.

Colorado, which assigned center Sheldon Dries to the AHL on Friday, is getting contributions from all four lines and the defense, which has translated into 17 goals in the first four games.

Calgary (2-2) is coming of a 5-3 loss at St. Louis on Thursday night. The Flames took a 1-0 lead on a goal by free-agent signee James Neal but then the Blues scored three straight, including one 12 seconds after Neal.

There was a scary moment when Calgary superstar Johnny Gaudreau took a big hit from St. Louis forward Alex Steen after Gaudreau grabbed Brayden Schenn. He came up wincing but said he was fine.

"The slash was a little more than the hit, but I'm alright," Gaudreau told after the game. "(Schenn) got me in the hand there. I kind of looked down and the guy stepped up and hit me."

Gaudreau is a lithe 165 pounds and one of the faster players in the league. He has taken a couple of hits this season, which is worrisome, but Gaudreau shrugged them off.

"In Nashville the guy poked my skate out and I probably would have avoided the hit if I didn't get my skate poked out, and tonight I looked down at my finger when I got slashed and didn't see the guy step up on me," he told "Both probably would have been avoided if those two plays didn't happen before the hit."

Colorado fans would rather have the dynamic Gaudreau on the ice, as long as the Avalanche win. With the way MacKinnon is playing they have a good chance, even with Gaudreau in the lineup.

Updated October 13, 2018

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