The Colorado Avalanche continue to absorb the blows of significant injuries, but they appear to have avoided the most serious possible blow: Leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon is expected to play Saturday after he left Thursday's game against the Predators early with an upper-body injury.
The precise nature of No. 29's injury and how it was suffered was unknown, but Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar did not seem troubled after Thursday's 9-4 win over the Nashville Predators. MacKinnon, who scored one goal and three points before his departure Thursday, did not participate in Colorado's morning skate Saturday, either. However, Bednar said it was just to "give him a little rest before tonight."
His goal came from the point on a 5-on-3 power play with just over two minutes left in the first, giving Colorado a 2-1 lead.
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) November 8, 2019
Although MacKinnon wasn't needed to finish off Thursday's win — after all, Colorado set a franchise record by scoring six goals in eight minutes — he is an essential piece on a team that is already missing two-thirds of the top line in Gabriel Landeskog (lower-body) and Mikko Rantanen (leg). Landeskog is out indefinitely while Rantanen carries a "week-to-week" designation.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) November 8, 2019
Prior to Thursday's win, the team was trudging through a 1-5-1 streak in the previous seven games, with three losses to divisional opponents. A team very much considered a Stanley Cup favorite at the early onset of the season will continue to look for MacKinnon to keep them competitive until Rantanen and Landeskog can return to help bear the load.
MacKinnon has accounted for most of the team's production. He leads Colorado in goals (9), assists (13) and points (22) this season.
Bednar also announced Saturday that defenseman Nikita Zadorov will miss time after he sustained a broken jaw in the second period on Thursday.
"[Zadorov] had surgery last night, I guess I'd go week-to-week right now," said Bednar via NHL.com. "Everything went well, so we will just see how things go over the next couple days and then we will try to get him back on the ice."
The Avalanche (9-5-2) next face the Columbus Blue Jackets (6-7-3) on Saturday at 9:00 p.m. ET.