TORONTO — Nathan MacKinnon collected a pass from childhood hero-turned-pal, split a couple of players masquerading as defenders and pulled off what looked a bit like an homage to the guy who sent him the puck.
MacKinnon had a pair of goals at the NHL All-Star Game, but the second one will probably find its way onto some highlight reels. He flipped a backhanded shot from between the hash marks over the left shoulder of Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
Sidney Crosby has been many things during his hall-of-fame career, including a role model and eventual workout partner for MacKinnon. He’s also been the owner of one of the best backhand shots in league history, so MacKinnon scoring such a pretty one on a pass from Crosby was a fun highlight from the weekend.
“It was great. We had a lot of fun,” MacKinnon said of playing with Crosby. “We kind of blew the lead there. Not many guys on our team know how to (penalty kill). I guess I didn’t think of that when I was drafting. … wish we had (Andrew) Cogliano and (Logan) O’Connor here.”
MacKinnon was the captain and general manager of his team, drafting the rest of his squad with assistant Cale Makar and celebrity captain Tate McRae on Thursday night. Alexandar Georgiev had a strong 10 minutes to start for Team MacKinnon, but Connor McDavid’s team scored twice on Jeremy Swayman with the goalie pulled and then won their mini-game in a shootout.
MacKinnon, Makar and Crosby played together in the 3-on-3 format. Makar assisted on both of MacKinnon’s goal, including setting him for a breakaway on the first one.
It was a productive weekend for the Avs’ representatives. Makar won the hardest shot contest and MacKinnon won the one-timer event during the skills competition Friday night.
Georgiev was the big winner of the trio. He won the goaltender’s portion of the one-on-one event Friday night, which earned him a $100,000 prize. He only allowed one goal on 11 shots in the game Saturday, turning away several breakaway and odd-man rush attempts.
He made an event-high nine saves on Connor McDavid in the one-on-one competition, mixing in a few poke checks to get the eventual skills competition winner off his game.
“Yeah, I got a couple messages (after Friday night),” Georgiev said. “Just people congratulating and happy for me. It was a really cool event.
“Overall, it was a super-fun experience.”
MacKinnon and Crosby together on a line certainly evoked images of what could be coming after the NHL, NHLPA and IIHF announced a return to best-on-best international hockey Friday. NHL players from Canada, Finland, Sweden and the United States will participate in the 2025 NHL 4 Nations Face-off in early 2025, then return to the Winter Olympics in 2026 for the first time in 12 years.
“That would be great,” MacKinnon said about potentially playing with Crosby in an international competition for the first time. “I’d be happy to play (on his ) right wing. I could definitely adjust to being a winger pretty easily. It would be fun.”
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