Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) ...
John Leyba, The Denver Post
Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) skate the puck does ice in the third period against the Winnipeg Jets on Nov. 29, 2017 in Denver, Colorado at Pepsi Center.

Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon on Friday was named the NHL’s first star for November, a month in which he produced 20 points (five goals) in 12 games, including seven multipoint outings.

MacKinnon, who entered Friday’s home game against the New Jersey Devils with a team-leading 28 points and 20 assists, is the first Avalanche player to post 20 points in a month since Matt Duchene had 20 points (11 goals) in November 2015.

Last month, MacKinnon had a career-high five points against the Washington Capitals and scored two overtime goals. He made his first NHL All-Star Game appearance last season, and the 22-year-old is the front-runner to represent the Avs again this season.

Welcome home. Devils rookie defenseman Will Butcher, the former DU Pioneers star and 2013 Avalanche draft pick who chose to become a free agent and ultimately sign with New Jersey, made his first NHL visit to Denver. He continues to play on the third pairing with Ben Lovejoy, despite New Jersey’s acquisition of defenseman Sami Vantanen from Anaheim on Thursday.

Butcher, 22, quarterbacks New Jersey’s No. 1 power play — a role he enjoyed throughout his four years at DU.

“Feels good to be back,” Butcher said after New Jersey’s optional morning skate. “Four years I played here; the city’s unbelievable. I love playing here. It’s very familiar territory for me so it’s comfortable.”

Butcher and the Devils arrived in Denver on Thursday, the day the Pioneers departed for Duluth, Minn., and this weekend’s series against the Bulldogs, whom DU defeated 3-2 in the April 8 NCAA championship game in Chicago.

Footnotes. The Avalanche stuck with the same lineup Friday that produced Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime win over the Winnipeg Jets. The only difference: Nail Yakupov was promoted to first-line left wing and Sven Andrighetto went back to the fourth. “Give him a shot up there,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said of Yakupov, who was averaging just 12 minutes, 13 seconds of ice time this season. Captain Gabe Landeskog usually plays left wing on the top line with MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, but Landeskog served the second game of his four-game suspension for his cross check last week on Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk. … Defenseman Patrik Nemeth (back) participated in Friday’s morning skate, his first action with the Avs in nearly a month, but Bednar said the Swede is a week or more from returning to the lineup. Forward Colin Wilson (undisclosed) missed his second consecutive game and considered day to day, Bednar said.

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