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'Playoff MacKinnon' emerges as Avalanche chase Stanley Cup

Nathan MacKinnon added to his impressive postseason numbers with two goals and an assist in Game 1 vs. St. Louis.

DENVER — There's Nate -- and then there's "Playoff Nate."

"That's a different freaking beast right there," Colorado Avalanche center Pierre Edouard-Bellemare said.

Nathan MacKinnon is ranked No. 8 this regular season in points, but his career postseason points per game? No. 4 all-time.

And he helped his case on Monday with two goals and an assist vs. the Blues in their playoff opener.

"Somehow you watch him every day and you think, 'This guy is pretty amazing,' and then when it comes to playoffs, there's another gear there," Edouard-Bellemare said.

"It's not fair for guys like me, but it's pretty fun to watch when you're on this side of the bench."

Credit: AP
Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, right, checks St. Louis Blues left wing Jaden Schwartz in the corner in the first period of Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series Monday, May 17, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Don't be so hard on yourself, Bellemare.

He does play with winger Mikko Rantanen, who has the fifth-most points in the NHL this season. And captain Gabriel Landeskog, who isn't shy around the net either.

"They're a special line, a lot of great players on that line," forward Alex Newhook said.

"It's fun to be able to watch them in the games and in practice and pick up some things that they do on the ice and hopefully put it into my game a little bit. They're probably the best line in the league, if not one of them, and it's fun to watch them work their magic every night."

Credit: AP
Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) in the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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