DENVER -- And to think, he doesn't even turn 19 until Sept. 1.
Nathan MacKinnon's goal 3:27 into overtime padded his lead atop the NHL playoff-scoring chart, but all he cared about on this wild night of hockey was giving the Colorado Avalanche a 3-2 series lead over the Minnesota Wild in a series that's had it all.
"It was so exciting," MacKinnon said of scoring the OT winner. "The best part was sharing with the guys in the huddle after the goal, my helmet got ripped off in the celebration. It's pretty exciting. It definitely ranks at the top of my list."
Well, that list is awfully young. It was just 10 months ago he was made the first overall selection in the NHL draft.
Now, he's leading the NHL playoffs in scoring with 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in five games, and, at 18 years, 237 days, MacKinnon is the second-youngest player to score an overtime goal in the playoffs. (Boston's Don Gallinger was 17 years, 339 days old when he scored against Montreal on March 21, 1943.)
Seriously, is this happening?
"We knew when we drafted him what kind of player we were drafting," Avs head coach Patrick Roy said. "He had a solid game again tonight."
MacKinnon's heroics happened only because of P.A. Parenteau's controversial tying goal with 1:14 left in the third period, replays seemingly indicating a missed off-side goal on the zone entry. Paul Stastny seems to be ahead of the puck-carrying MacKinnon at the blue line. It wasn't by much, it was close, but that's what it looked like.
"It was offside, and they missed the call. It's a damn shame," Wild star blueliner Ryan Suter said, not hiding his opinion on the matter.
"There's nothing you can do about it now. It's too bad. We came out in the third period and played the way we wanted to. They missed a call [on the tying goal], and we paid for it. I mean, no excuses. We have to play better in the overtime. We got to get more pressure on them. But they definitely got away with a missed call to tie the game."
Wild head coach Mike Yeo was more diplomatic and took the smart route, not wanting the controversial tying goal to overtake his team's focus ahead of Game 6.
"It is what it is," a calm Yeo said. "To sit here and dwell on it, I don't think will do us any good. Obviously frustrating, obviously disappointing, but bottom line is, it's not going to do us any good."
It was the Avs who were fuming with 4:33 to go in the third period when captain Gabriel Landeskog was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty following a snow shower on Wild netminder Darcy Kuemper. It was technically the right call, no question. as the league, a few years ago, wanted to clamp down on players doing that. But the Avs were incredulous that it was called so late in a playoff game.
But they killed the penalty, and that set up yet another sixth-attacker magic moment.
Goalie Semyon Varlamov was on the bench when Parenteau put home a rebound over Kuemper, and bedlam ensued at the Pepsi Center.
It was the second time in the series that the Avs scored the tying goal late with the extra attacker, also doing it in Game 1.