After being dominated for the first half of the game, the Colorado Avalanche made this one pretty exciting. In the end, though, they came up just short, losing 3-2 to the Nashville Predators.
Some chippy play, an injured goalie, and a controversial goaltender interference (non)call. This was a fun one, even if the result wasn’t ideal. The Avalanche are now one loss away from the offseason, so they’re going to have to show a more balanced effort Friday night in Nashville.
Though there weren’t any goals scored for the first 15 and a half minutes of the game, this certainly wasn’t a boring first period. The Avalanche were forced to kill off two penalties very early in the game. First, Patrik Nemeth took a very dumb and unnecessary penalty for closing his hand on the puck only 38 seconds into the game. Less than a minute later, Carl Soderberg went to the box after he clipped Nick Bonino with a high stick. The Avs had to kill off a 5 on 3 with two of their top PK guys in the box. They were able to weather the storm thanks to some tremendous play by Jonathan Bernier, who looked great despite taking a hard slap shot off the face very early in the game.
The Predators went up 8-0 on the shot clock before the Avs finally found a rhythm. The team started to play a little better through the middle of the period, but unfortunately, it was Nashville that opened the scoring. Filip Forsberg absolutely torched Duncan Siemens on a rush down the wing then cut to the net and slid the puck past Bernier to take a 1-0 lead. It’s the first time the Predators have opened the scoring in this series.
Nashville took the 1-0 lead into the intermission, outshooting the Avs 15-8.
The Avalanche came out for the second period with a lot more pep in their step. A few shifts into the period, the line of Tyson Jost, Alex Kerfoot and Sven Andrighetto was able to get sustained pressure in the Nashville zone - and were able to draw a penalty. Shortly after the first penalty, the Preds took a second as Colton Sissons played the puck with his hand on a faceoff giving the Avs a two-man advantage.
The Avs got their best scoring chance when Nathan MacKinnon beat Pekka Rinne with a wrist shot but had the puck ring off the post. The team was unable to take advantage of the two penalties and as is usually the case, the Preds rode the momentum of the penalty kill. Just a minute after coming out of the penalty box, Colton Sissons beat Jonathan Bernier to make the score 2-0. It was a blown opportunity for the Avs and a sequence that can be looked at as the moment that the game got away from them.
The Avs got another opportunity when deadline acquisition Ryan Hartman decided to run around the ice like a crazy person and took a penalty to put the Avalanche on the powerplay for the third time in the period. Not only were the Avs unable to capitalize, Craig Smith scored just seconds after the penalty expired to extend the lead to 3-0.
Late in the period, Alex Kerfoot took a pretty silly goaltender interference penalty to send the Avs into the intermission shorthanded.
There was a scary moment late in this period when Mikko Rantanen took a stick up near the eye. Nathan MacKinnon got his blade up under Mikko’s visor and cut him. It could have been a lot worse, but Rantanen was able to return to the game after cleaning up the cut.
That’s where things got crazy. The Avalanche took to the ice for the final 20 minutes of regulation missing someone - their starting goalie. Jonathan Bernier left the game with a lower-body injury so Andrew Hammond was forced into action.
This was Hammond’s first playoff action since he made two appearances for the Senators back in 2015.
Despite the adversity, the Avs wouldn’t quit. Five minutes into the period, it was the captain that got Colorado on the board. Gabriel Landeskog scored his third of the playoffs on the powerplay to cut the lead to 3-1.
The goal gave the Avalanche new life. The team was flying - led by their superstar - and began to put a lot of pressure on the Predators. The pace of the game picked up and the new-found energy paid off as Alex Kerfoot shrunk the lead to one. He put a loose puck past Pekka Rinne to make the score 3-2 with nine minutes to play.
The Avalanche looked absolutely dominant for the last 10 minutes of the game. They nearly tied it up late as Colin Wilson rang one off the post behind Rinne. It was the closest they’d come as Nashville was able to hold on for a 3-2 victory.
The Predators now have a 3-1 lead in the series and they’ll be able to wrap it up Friday night on home ice.