Denver, CO (SportsNetwork.com) - Nathan MacKinnon scored a goal with three assists as the rookie led the Colorado Avalanche to a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild in Game 2 of this Western Conference quarterfinal series.
The 18-year-old became the youngest player in Colorado franchise history to score a goal in the playoffs as his marker tied the game, then he helped to set up a pair of goals from Gabriel Landeskog to give his club a 2-0 lead in this best-of-seven series.
The front runner for the Calder Trophy as the leagues top rookie, MacKinnon led all freshmen in points with 63 and tied for goals with 24.
"You could see today that they were going to the net more than after the first game," said MacKinnon. "They're not going to roll over in this series It's been a lot of fun, but it's going to be a tough one on Monday. It was a well rounded win, and a pretty emotional game."
Semyon Varlamov stopped 30 shots for Colorado, which is 12-0 all-time in playoff series after going up 2-0. Paul Stastny posted an empty-net goal and three assists.
Charlie Coyle and Marco Scandella scored for the Wild, who saw starter Ilya Bryzgalov pulled after giving up three goals on 14 shots. Darcy Kuemper performed well in relief, turning away all 14 shots he faced.
This series now heads back to Minnesota for the next two tilts, with Game 3 scheduled for Monday night.
"It'll be good to be back home and make it uncomfortable for them," said Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo. "We had been able to shut down good players all year, and we've got to change what we're doing here. We're giving them time and space, and we've got to take that away."
The hosts took a 2-1 lead at 2:58 of the second period when MacKinnon gained the neutral zone and made a nice move to get around a defender before leaving a drop pass for Landeskog, who snapped a wrister into the right corner.
Colorado then gave itself some breathing room nine minutes later off a nice passing play. MacKinnon was again involved as he flew down the left wing and backhanded over to the right for Stastny, who quickly slipped it to the right circle where Landeskog one-timed it in for his third of the playoffs.
Kuemper was pulled for an extra skater with more than two minutes left, but stayed there after defenseman Ryan Suter was sent off for cross checking. The Avs later saw an empty-net goal waved off due to an offsides, and the Wild got one past Varlamov seconds later as Koivu fired the puck from the right circle to the front where Scandella redirected it in with 1:19 to play.
Stastny, though, sealed the win with an empty-netter shortly after hitting the outside of the cage with no one there.
Minnesota grabbed a 1-0 lead at 4:18 of the first period as Mikko Koivu's shot from the left wing was sticked away by Varlamov, but Coyle was crashing the net and it went in off his body for his second of the series.
Just over two minutes later, though, the Avalanche tied the game when MacKinnon took the puck in the neutral zone and skated through the middle before cutting over to the right and Bryzgalov with a heavy wrister.