PITTSBURGH (AP) — Nathan MacKinnon has been compared to Sidney Crosby for much of his life. The two grew up in the same Canadian town and both went No. 1 in the NHL draft.
Now they get to take a much closer look at each other.
MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche visit Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night in the first NHL matchup of the pride of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia.
The Avalanche and Penguins are each off to a 7-1 start, with MacKinnon and Crosby playing a key role. The 26-year-old Crosby has seven goals and 10 assists for a league-best 17 points. MacKinnon, who turned 18 on Sept. 1, has a goal and six assists.
MacKinnon called Crosby the best player in the world and said the center is "on fire right now." But MacKinnon is focused on what he needs to do to help the Avalanche get another win.
"Any time he's out there when you're not on the ice, you sometimes get to enjoy and watch some good players when you're playing against them," he said. "But when you're out there, you don't worry about who you're playing against. You worry about what you have to do."
Crosby knows a lot about what MacKinnon is going through in his first year in the NHL. Crosby, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft, faced high expectations when he was an 18-year-old rookie and had 102 points in his first season with Pittsburgh.
MacKinnon became one of the league's top prospects when he starred for Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in the previous two seasons. He was the most valuable player of the Memorial Cup in May, leading his team to the title.
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