Colorado Avalanche vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 24th 2024

Nathan MacKinnon has an impressive home point streak going for the Colorado Avalanche but he’s not the hottest player in the NHL right now.

That honor belongs to Toronto’s Auston Matthews, who is scoring goals at a scorching rate. Matthews has 10 goals in his last five games, including one in a 7-3 win at Vegas on Thursday night, and carries that hot stick into Saturday night when the Maple Leafs play at Colorado.

Matthews has scored a league-best 52 goals in 55 games, and while he’s not on pace to catch Wayne Gretzky’s single-season record of 92 set in 1981-82, he is on pace for 76 goals. That would mark the most goals by a player since 1992-93, when Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny each netted 76.

Matthews, who posted a career-high 60 goals two season ago, has been a big reason Toronto has won a season-high six in a row. He has almost as many goals over the last five games as opponents have scored against the Maple Leafs (13) in that span. He even overshadowed Max Domi’s two goals against the Golden Knights.

“When we get everyone going like that, we’re a tough team to beat,” Domi said. “We can play with anyone. We have four lines going short and hard. Everyone sticking to their game plan, keeping it simple, staying disciplined. When we do that, we come at teams in waves.”

Toronto has found another gear since dropping five of six last month. The Maple Leafs have won 10 of their last 12 overall and will try to head home having swept a four-game road trip through the Western Conference.

The Leafs will also try to avoid losing both games to the Avalanche this season. Colorado won 5-3 at Toronto on Jan. 13 for what has become a rare road victory. The Avalanche are 3-6-2 away from home since then, including a 2-1 overtime loss at Detroit on Thursday night in the return of center Logan O’Connor, who had missed four games with a lower-body injury.

The good news is they are playing at home Saturday where they are 22-5-0 and MacKinnon has been hard to stop. He’s registered at least one point in all 27 home games this season, tying Guy Lafleur (1979-80) for the seventh-longest home-point streak in NHL history.

MacKinnon trails Wayne Gretzky (40 in 1988-89, 33 in 1985-86 and 28 in 1979-80), Lafleur (32 in 1978-79), Mario Lemieux (31 in 1995-96) and Bryan Trottier (31 in 1981-82).

Colorado will need him to keep the streak going to get a win against the hottest team outside of the New York Rangers, who have won nine in a row as of Friday. The Avalanche were on their heels against the Red Wings, coughed up the lead in the third period and then lost out on an extra point.

With three teams within three points at the top of the Central Division entering Friday, Colorado can’t afford to give away valuable points like it did Thursday.

“We spent too much time in our own end,” Cale Makar said. “You can’t do that all night, and some of that is on me. I can’t turn the puck over when we need to get it out of our end.”

–Field Level Media

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