Is Nathan MacKinnon the lifelong center becoming comfortable as a full-time right winger? It sure seems so.

Although he played center in some of the games, the Avalanche rookie and leading Calder Trophy candidate entered Friday night's home game against Phoenix on a nine-game points streak (five goals, seven assists). Since losing forward Alex Tanguay for the rest of the season because of hip surgery, Avalanche coach Patrick Roy has moved MacKinnon back to right wing on a line with Paul Stastny and Gabe Landeskog.

Although he had some issues earlier in the season in moving to the wing, the 18-year-old MacKinnon said he has a much better grasp of what he needs to do to be successful there. Besides, he said, he still plays much of his hockey in the middle of the ice.

"The way Paulie likes to play center, he likes to have guys moving in the neutral zone, so half the time I'm circling in the middle, playing like a center man," said MacKinnon, whose 22 goals and 45 points led NHL rookies entering Friday. "Paulie is so good defensively down low and so good on faceoffs, which is so important.

"With me and Landy on the wings, I think we bring different elements and it makes a pretty good line."

MacKinnon is on pace to become the first NHL rookie to reach the 60-point mark since Jeff Skinner had 63 for Carolina in 2010-11.