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Mega Matchup: MacKinnon vs. Gaudreau

The two forwards each record 99 points over 82 games this season

by Miranda Einhorn /

Between the two of them, they generated a whopping 198 points this season. The Colorado Avalanche's Nathan MacKinnon and Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames are two of the highest scoring forwards in the NHL, and they will be facing off against each other with their respective teams in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The two players have sported near parallel seasons this year, racking up 99 points apiece (1.21 points per game) to tie for seventh overall in the NHL. MacKinnon got the edge in goals (41), while Gaudreau accumulated five more assists (63) than the Avalanche center. Both forwards have played more than five season in the league, and the two stars both reached significant personal milestones this season.

In 2018-19, MacKinnon led the team in scoring for the third straight year, and his 99 points (41 goals, 58 assists) are a career high and mark the second campaign in a row that he's surpassed the 90 plateau. MacKinnon's 41 markers and league-leading 365 shots also set new career bests for the center. The Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, native recorded his 40th goal of the season and 400th point of his career on April 2 against Edmonton.

Like Gaudreau, MacKinnon skated in the entire 82-game slate this year, one of four Avalanche players to do so.

In comparison, Gaudreau became the sixth fastest player to reach 300 points in Flames history (320 games) after notching two goals on Oct. 21. The forward not only led Calgary in scoring but also in shots (245).

The native of Salem, New Jersey, has proven himself to be a clutch player, notching eight game-winners and 26 multi-point performances in 2018-19. The forward registered four-point games in back-to-back contests on Dec. 31 and Jan. 2 and tied a franchise record for the most points in a period with a goal and three assists in the first frame on Nov. 19.

"He's one of the best offensive players in the league, for sure," MacKinnon said of Gaudreau. "I'm not sure who we're going to play against, the matchup and things like that, but whoever's on the ice has to be responsible and keep aware of him, stay above him."

The two players have also had success facing off against each other's team specifically. In 15 career games against Colorado, Gaudreau has produced 12 points (six goals, six assists). MacKinnon has appeared in 16 all-time contests against the Flames and has generated 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) over that span.

Gaudreau and MacKinnon weren't always opponents, they were also once teammates at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Although the two are from different countries, they suited up in the tournament for Team North America, which consisted of players ages 23 and under from Canada and the United States.

"We played on a line together," recalled MacKinnon. "I loved playing with him. His vision is off the charts and, yeah, we had a good tournament."

Though MacKinnon and Gaudreau share some of the same experiences and accomplishments, the two players differ in terms of playoff experience.

Gaudreau has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 15 games of playoff expeirence in 2015 and 2017, while MacKinnon, who played in the 2014 and 2018 playoffs, has generated 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 13 playoff outings.

Regardless, the two offensive powerhouses average more than 20 minutes of ice time a night and will likely be key producers in the playoffs on their respective fast, high-energy clubs.

If you can predict anything in this playoff matchup, it's speed and, given their history, MacKinnon and Gaudreau are sure to contribute to both the pace and point total this series.

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