Crosby and MacKinnon

TORONTO -- Nathan MacKinnon and Sidney Crosby didn't get to spend a ton of time together this weekend, but the little moments and conversations they had meant a lot.

"With the 4 Nations (tournament next year) and Olympics (in 2026), I don't know how many more All-Star games (opportunities there will be), who knows what will happen in the future. So, it's cool to be on a team with him, get some good pictures that we'll probably appreciate more in the future than now," the Colorado Avalanche center said after his team's 4-3 shootout loss to Connor McDavid's team in the first semifinal at the 2024 Honda (U.S.)/Rogers (Canada) 2024 NHL All-Star Game at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday.

MacKinnon picked the Pittsburgh Penguins captain, who also hails from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, at the Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Player Draft on Thursday. Naturally, Winnipeg Jets coach Rick Bowness put the two together on the top line with MacKinnon's Avalanche teammate, defenseman Cale Makar.

"Well, they are on the same lake as I am in the summer, so that's an easy one," Bowness said of MacKinnon and Crosby.

And even less surprising, MacKinnon and Crosby connected on the ice. MacKinnon scored twice, with Crosby having the secondary assist on the first goal and the primary assist on the second.

"It's pretty easy to play with [MacKinnon and Makar]. It doesn't take much chemistry but a lot of ice," Crosby said. "They're obviously great skaters, and they gave me some good looks. I just couldn't put anything in. It's on me."

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MacKinnon and Crosby are each having strong seasons. MacKinnon, 28, went into the All-Star break with 84 points (31 goals, 53 assists) in 49 games, second in the NHL to Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, who has 85 points (32 goals, 53 assists).

"He's just taking it to another level, and we've seen it time and time again, especially in the (Stanley Cup) Playoffs where it seems like he's not going to be able to turn it up a notch and he does. He's done that this year, night in, night out," Crosby said.

"He's tough to stop. He's got a lot of weapons. His speed, obviously the biggest one, but so many ways that he's continued to improve. He's having an incredible season."

Crosby, 36, is leading the Penguins with 50 points (27 goals, 23 assists), six power-play goals and is tied with forward Jeff Carter for the most game-winning goals with three.

As much as MacKinnon appreciated being around Crosby, so did others.

"All these guys here, it's cool to pick their brains and stuff like that, especially a guy like Sid," Makar said. "He was one of my childhood idols growing up and to see the level he's still playing at is pretty incredible. Seems like he has another 10 years in him. That's pretty awesome."

The Crosby-MacKinnon connection was evident to everyone, even in the short amount of time they were together.

"Yeah, very special. There's a reason why [MacKinnon] picked him first," Boston Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman said. "It was cool to see it firsthand. They were making some unbelievable plays and it's really awesome how intense it was." senior director of editorial Shawn P. Roarke contributed to this report

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