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Avalanche forward MacKinnon out with broken foot

by Rick Sadowski

Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon has a broken foot and will be out 6-8 weeks, the team announced Friday, effectively ending his season unless the Avalanche make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

MacKinnon, 19, originally injured his foot when he blocked a shot Feb. 22 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, coach Patrick Roy said. X-rays were taken and came back negative. MacKinnon had his first NHL hat trick in that game.

MacKinnon took another shot off his foot Wednesday in a 3-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins; he scored the winning goal.

Roy said MacKinnon complained that his foot was bothering him before practicing Thursday. An MRI after practice revealed the fracture.

"It's never good news when you're losing a player like Nate, especially in a key moment in our season," Roy said. "It's been a year like this and we're going to have to win games without him."

Roy said he didn't think MacKinnon's play was adversely affected after the Tampa Bay game, but he benched him five days later in the third period, overtime and shootout of a 5-4 win against the Dallas Stars.

"I don't think so," Roy said. "Through a season your players are going through different injuries."

It has been a disappointing season for MacKinnon, who had 14 goals and 38 points in 64 games. He had five goals and nine points in the past 10 games.

MacKinnon was the first player selected in the 2013 NHL Draft and won the Calder Trophy last season when he had 24 goals and 63 points in 82 games. He had two goals and 10 points in seven playoff games.

MacKinnon was demoted to the third and fourth lines last Saturday against the Minnesota Wild, a game when he sustained a broken nose on a hit by Sean Bergenheim. MacKinnon was living with teammate Maxime Talbot and his family until Monday, when Talbot was traded to the Boston Bruins. Talbot left for Boston on Tuesday with his wife and their infant son.

Roy said Cody McLeod would take MacKinnon's place at right wing on the top line with left wing Gabriel Landeskog and center Ryan O'Reilly. Daniel Briere, a healthy scratch in eight of the past nine games, will replace McLeod on the fourth line with Joey Hishon and Marc-Andre Cliche.

The Avalanche play back-to-back road games this weekend, Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Sunday against the Wild.

The Avalanche (28-25-11) have 18 games remaining and are nine points behind the Winnipeg Jets, who hold the second wild card in the Western Conference.

Defenseman Erik Johnson skated Friday for the first time since having knee surgery Jan. 22. He remains out indefinitely.

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