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Avs’ MacKinnon, Pens’ Crosby star in wild affair

Sidney Crosby's natural hat trick for the Pittsburgh Penguins wasn't enough to stop Nathan MacKinnon, who had one goal and three assists, and the Colorado Avalanche.

The best line in hockey against the best player in the world.

That was the stage-setter prior to Wednesday Night Hockey between the Colorado Avalanche and the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins, two teams brimming with talent.

And it didn’t disappoint. Not even once.

The Avalanche won 6-3. But it’s the journey to the final scoreline that was so enthralling.

Colorado jumped out to a 3-0 lead just before the game turned 28 minutes old. Nathan MacKinnon had his hand in on two of those markers, including the one that started the onslaught off the stick of Samuel Girard and another on a pretty pass to Colin Wilson.

Pittsburgh looked every part of the team that had played the night before. The Penguins trailed by one goal three times before beating the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 in a third-period surge. From there, they had to jump on a plane, travel to Denver and face another Central Division juggernaut in the Avs.

Those Avs, meanwhile, looked like a team that, despite playing the night before in Nashville, were still riding the buzz of beating the Predators in a hard-fought 3-2 game.

Everything was looking good up until the 39-minute mark on Wednesday, too.

And then Sidney Crosby woke up.

Crosby put his team on his back in the final minute of the second, scoring twice -- once at 19:08 and then again at 19:50 -- to pull the Pens to within one. Crosby then needed just 4:43 to complete the natural hat trick while simultaneously completing an unlikely comeback that didn’t seem possible six minutes earlier.

The battle for Cole Harbour supremacy wasn’t finished there, though.

MacKinnon picked up his third assist of the night when Gabriel Landeskog’s wrist shot went squirely of an ill-fated block attempt by Juuso Riikola, knuckling past Tristan Jarry to regain the lead.

Mikko Rantanen pitched in with the secondary assist, his second of the night, to give the line its sixth point in what proved to be the game-winner in a wild affair.

MacKinnon iced it with the line’s seventh point into the empty net, completing his four-point night to upstage Crosby.

The highest scoring line on the highest scoring team pulled the Avs to within one point of the Central Division summit.

Colorado is riding a six-game winning streak now and look unstoppable.

And geez, are they ever fun to watch.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck