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Wild face task of slowing down MacKinnon in Game 7

by Dan Rosen

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche rookie Nathan MacKinnon has tortured the Minnesota Wild in the three previous games at Pepsi Center in the Western Conference First Round series.

He has 10 points in the series, all in home games; three in Game 1, four in Game 2 and three in Game 5.

If MacKinnon continues his home-ice assault in Game 7, the Wild might be flying home, haunted by No. 29 in burgundy, instead of to Chicago, where they would start the second round if they win Wednesday (9 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN2, RDS, FS-N, ALT).

The Wild optimistically packed for a long road trip.

"He's a really good player," said Wild defenseman Ryan Suter, who has been on the ice for the majority of MacKinnon's shifts in the series. "I mean, every time he gets the puck he's explosive. He tries to make plays. That's the difference. There's a lot of guys that get the puck and if they don't have anything they'll move it or put it in, but he always seems like he's trying to beat you. He's pretty on fire right now. His confidence is very high and he's performing."

One of Suter's tasks in Game 7 will be to crush his confidence and stop him from performing. But that's easier said than done considering MacKinnon's speed.

"I'll use the word 'mojo,' he's got a little bit of that going, especially at home," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "He seems to be a guy who is going to go out there and attack and wants to make a difference. He's obviously feeling very confident. He's got electrifying speed and obviously a very high skill level to go along with it."

Suter said MacKinnon reminds him of Wild forward Zach Parise because they have the same drive to win and are almost inconsolable after a loss, the way MacKinnon was following Game 6 at Xcel Energy Center on Monday.

"Great players have that," Suter said. "When you lose, you should be mad. Most guys are. That doesn't surprise me. Zach, he's one of the best forwards in the League, I think, just because of his tenacity and the way he goes after the puck. He doesn't give up. MacKinnon, he's young, still has a lot to learn, but offensively he's one of the top players right now."


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