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MacKinnon stars in return

by Mike G. Morreale

Halifax Mooseheads forward Nathan MacKinnon clearly wasn't interested in easing his way back into the lineup after missing over a month due to injury.

On Wednesday, in his first game since Feb. 8, when he tweaked his knee and spent the next 14 games out of action, MacKinnon had two goals and two assists to lead the Mooseheads to a 6-2 victory against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles at Centre 200 in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

MacKinnon wasted little time, scoring just 35 seconds into the first period.

"We wanted to wait until he was 100 percent before he came back so he was really ready to go," Halifax coach Dominique Ducharme told The Chronicle Herald. "He was excited to be coming back. He played with energy and it was great to see how he handled it."

MacKinnon, No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters for the 2013 NHL Draft, has a point in 11 straight games, dating to Jan. 12, and has totaled eight goals and 21 points in that span. In addition to his offensive output Wednesday, MacKinnon also generated a team-high six shots on goal, delivered one hit and won 10 of 18 faceoffs.

"I was a little nervous coming in for sure and didn't know what to expect," MacKinnon told The Metro News. "Scoring early kind of got it out of the way and definitely a nice way to come back. Obviously, it wasn't our best game, but I thought we deserved to win."

MacKinnon's linemate, Jonathan Drouin, the No. 3-ranked skater on Central Scouting's list, had a goal and two assists in the victory. Drouin is riding a remarkable 28-game point streak, during which he's produced 26 goals and 64 points.

Drouin leads the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 104 points, and is seventh with 41 goals.

With two games remaining in the regular season, the Mooseheads are 56-6-3-1 and are just two away from equaling the league record for wins in a single season (58).

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL

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