Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon hadn’t found the back of the net through the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
His slump finally came to an end on Wednesday as he scored on a second-period power play. Prior to Game 4, MacKinnon had recorded just two assists in the final series and felt the pressure to rack up some goals.
In order to get his mind straight, MacKinnon reached out to Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby for advice. The two star forwards are from the same neck of the woods in Nova Scotia, usually train together in the offseason and are known to keep in touch.
While Crosby would most likely prefer to be playing against his buddy in the Stanley Cup Final, he is still watching the action and picking up the phone when MacKinnon rings.
”Nathan MacKinnon is on the phone with Sidney Crosby in between games and Sid’s telling him not to put too much pressure on himself,” NHL insider Kevin Weekes revealed on the Pat McAfee Show ahead of Game 4.
“He’s telling him to continue to do what he does, play to his strengths. Elite players that are high-producing players expect so much of themselves and sometimes they put too much pressure on themselves. So maybe just simplify the game.”
MacKinnon would be wise to listen to his friend, who knows a thing or two about what it takes to win at this time of the year. Crosby is a three-time Stanley Cup champion, having hoisted the prestigious trophy in 2009, and then in back-to-back years in 2016 and 2017.
MacKinnon showed no outward signs of frustration during his scoring slump, showing his maturity as a player. It’s easy to notice Crosby’s influence on the 26-year-old as he takes on the biggest challenge of his career.
The Avalanche now have the edge in the series, heading back to Colorado with the chance to win their first Stanley Cup in 21 years on home ice in Game 5 on Friday. MacKinnon might reach out to Crosby again seeing that he found himself at the center of the controversial overtime goal that led to the Avalanche’s 3-2 victory.
In a storybook ending, Nazem Kadri scored the game-winning goal on a partial breakaway in his Stanley Cup Final debut. However, while Avalanche goalie Darcy Kuemper fed the puck up the ice, one Avalanche player — MacKinnon — had not completed his change. Kadri’s tally could have easily been waved off for a too-many-men penalty.
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