For the first two periods of this Stanley Cup Playoff series, the Colorado Avalanche outplayed the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Nashville Predators. The Avalanche used their elite speed to keep Nashville on their toes in a way many wouldn’t have expected. Unfortunately, the NHL’s best team found their footing in the second intermission and were able to dominate the third period leading to a 5-2 victory for the Predators.
The Avalanche started this game off exactly how they needed to. The team came out and had a near-perfect first period, limiting scoring chances and scoring early in order to quiet the rowdy Nashville crowd. It took only six and a half minutes for the Avs to strike first. Nikita Zadorov put a wrist shot past Pekka Rinne as the trailing man on a great rush by MacKinnon and Rantanen. The goal gave the Avs a quick lead and a little bit of confidence that they could hand with the Preds.
Nothing else came of the first period, as the Avs went into the intermission with the lead and having controlled the play for much of the first 20 minutes.
The teams went back and forth in the opening minutes of the second period and you knew the 1-0 score wasn’t going to hold up for long. Austin Watson tied the game up less than three minuted into the frame. He scored from a tough angle on a shot that Jonathan Bernier would probably want back. The MVP of the sequence, however, was Matt Irwin who pulled the puck off of the goal line on a play that would have given the Avs a 2-0 lead just 30 seconds earlier.
It didn’t take long for the Avs to answer back. Just over two minutes later, Blake Comeau got Colorado’s lead back with an incredible deflection to get the puck past Pekka Rinne.
As the midway point of the game approached, Nashville went to the powerplay and were able to tie things up once again. Craig Smith was left wide open by blown coverage from Patrik Nemeth and was able to easily bury a one-timer from Ryan Johansen. Smith beating Bernier brought the score to 2-2 and was the last goal of the second period.
Through two, the Predators were winning the shot count 21-17, but it was the Avs that were getting the better scoring chances. Pekka Rinne was the only reason the game was tied after 40 minutes.
You could sense the nervous energy in the building as the teams took to the ice for the third period.
The Predators took their first lead of the game with 14 minutes left in regulation as Filip Forsberg tipped home a Roman Josi shot (pass?) on another bit of blown coverage from Nemeth.
Nashville then extended the lead a little while later on a goal that you can’t even really get mad at. Filip Forsberg showed his elite puck-handling skills and put a move on Sam Girard that was simply amazing. He finished the play off by wristing the puck past Bernier to give his team a 4-2 lead.
Colton Sissions capped things off with an empty net goal giving the Predators a 5-2 win. It was a good game, for the most part, the better team just took over in the third period.
The Avs almost certainly gained a lot of confidence in Game 1, let’s hope it carries over for Saturday afternoon.
- Both Nemeth and Mark Barberio were terrible tonight. Bednar has to seriously consider switching up the blueline for game 2.
- The top line was flying tonight, everyone else needs to find another gear.
- The Avalanche legitimately outplayed the Preds for 40 minutes. Rinne kept the game tied
- Sam Girard was great tonight - aside from when he got posterized on the second Forsberg goal. He might have been the best Avs player in Game 1.
- The in-arena Predators fans are absolutely insufferable with those chants. They also seem confused by the whole situation given that they were chanting “it’s all your fault” immediately after the Avs scored on Rinne.
- Game 2, Saturday afternoon. Let’s go Avs!