Nathan MacKinnon injury update: Colorado Avalanche forward held out in third, increasing worry for Stanley Cup contenders

The Colorado Avalanche continue to absorb the blows of significant injuries. Nathan MacKinnon left Thursday’s game against the Predators early with an upper-body injury. While the precise nature of the injury and how it was suffered is unknown, head coach Jared Bednar did not seem troubled, calling MacKinnon’s early exit “precautionary.”

Turns out, they didn’t need him as the team swapped third-period tallies with Nashville, ending the game with a 9-4 final. The 2013 first-overall pick had one goal and three assists in 14:28 on-ice time before his departure.

His goal came from the point on a 5-on-3 power play with just over two minutes left in the first, giving Colorado a 2-1 lead.

So, although MacKinnon wasn’t needed to finish off Thursday’s win — after all,  Colorado set a franchise record by scoring six goals in eight minutes — he is an essential piece on a team that is already missing two-thirds of the top line in Gabriel Landeskog (lower-body) and Mikko Rantanen (leg). Landeskog is out indefinitely while Rantanen carries a “week-to-week” designation. If Colorado loses MacKinnon for any amount of time, it could lead to massive scoring issues for the Avalanche.

Sure, they beat an impressive Nashville team but prior to that, the team was trudging through a 1-5-1 streak in the previous seven games, with three losses to divisional opponents. A team very much considered a Stanley Cup favorite at the early onset of the season now looks to rely on depth to keep that hope alive with their Big Three potentially out of the lineup.

MacKinnon has accounted for most of the team’s production. He leads Colorado in goals (9), assists (13) and points (22) this season.

The Avalanche (9-5-2) next face the Columbus Blue Jackets (6-7-3) on Saturday at 9:00 p.m. ET.

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