Scoring 50 goals in a single NHL season is quite an accomplishment for a player. Doing it for the first time – in the middle of a hat trick no less – is even more special. Nathan MacKinnon knows what that feels like after his latest stellar performance in a 5-2 Colorado Avalanche win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.

MacKinnon scored his 49th, 50th and 51st goals of the season, notching his third hat trick of what could end up being an MVP-winning campaign. His teammates are not surprised to see MacKinnon rise to another level this late in the season.

“We were laughing, actually, after his first goal. I thought we were playing in Halifax [again], to be honest,” Avalanche forward Jonathan Drouin said. “I've seen those breakout goals where he just blows by the [defensemen] and the [defense] doesn’t even stand a chance. He had his legs tonight, for sure, and he made it count.”

Drouin and MacKinnon played together for the Halifax Mooseheads in juniors before being selected first and third respectively in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

After laughing with his teammates during the game, MacKinnon reflected on their importance to him scoring 50 goals for the first time in his 11 NHL seasons.

“I never thought in my life I'd score 50, honestly. I never really thought I would,” MacKinnon said, per Ryan Boulding. “It feels good, obviously. A lot of amazing plays from everybody all season, a lot of empty nets, a lot of hard work from the whole lineup. I think it's a team achievement, honestly. It's a team sport. Obviously, it’s tough to get there. You can't do it alone.”

Five Avalanche players recorded at least two points Tuesday night as MacKinnon led the way with four. Colorado snapped a two-game slide to stay alive in the race for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

MacKinnon approaching franchise record

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) controls the puck ahead of Minnesota Wild defenseman Jake Middleton (5) in the second period at Ball Arena
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Nathan MacKinnon's four-point night gives him 137 points this season, which somehow is second in the NHL behind Tampa Bay Lightning star Nikita Kucherov's 139. The two have jockeyed for position all season and usually follow up each other's standout games with one of their own. Kucherov had three assists in a Lightning win on Tuesday to maintain his lead.

MacKinnon might not finish as the league's outright points leader this season, but he is three points shy of breaking the Avalanche/Nordiques franchise record for points in a single season. Peter Stastny set the record with 139 during the 1981-82 season, just the third for the Quebec Nordiques franchise.

With three games remaining in the Avalanche's regular season, MacKinnon should have no problem breaking that record. He has a tougher hill to climb to top Michel Goulet's franchise-record 57 goals, but scoring seven goals in three games is not impossible for MacKinnon.

He wowed the Colorado faithful with 111 points in 71 games last season and has soared past that in 79 games this season. Regardless if it ends with a Hart Trophy as league MVP, Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche have their sights set on something bigger.

After a first-round exit last season as the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Avalanche are contenders again this year. Several teams can make that claim in what has been a crazy NHL season, but there is plenty of reason to believe Colorado will be the last team standing when it's all said and done.