The Colorado Avalanche were heavily relying upon their strong home-ice advantage from the season to help them remain competitive in their somewhat-lopsided series against the Nashville Predators this week.
After taking home a win in game three, though, they collapsed in the first 50 minutes of play - and at around the 40-minute mark, they also lost a key part of their lineup.
Jonathan Bernier left the game at the end of the second period with a lower-body injury, leaving after allowing three goals on 26 shots to give his team a significant deficit heading into the final frame.
Although Bernier has been incredibly valuable this year, he - like starter Semyon Varlamov - has a storied injury history, and leaving this game just adds to an already-lengthy list of missed games due to tweaks and twinges here and there.
In his place, Andrew Hammond took to the ice, where he helped the team avoid falling even further behind with eight shots turned away.
Unfortunately, his relief effort - combined with a two-goal period for Colorado once Bernier was out - wasn’t enough to help them overcome their poor start, and they’ll head back to Nashville down 3-1 in the series.
There’s always the possibility, at this point, that Colorado can force a game seven; in the postseason, anything can happen.
Realistically, though, the lost game (and lost Bernier) were the last real shots at taking home a first round upset. Without Bernier in net, the team may be lost; Andrew Hammond has been improving his numbers in the AHL, but hasn’t had a quality, sustained NHL performance since 2015 and never hit his stride in that playoff series for Ottawa.
Combined with the team losing their home-ice advantage in what may very well be an elimination game, and things aren’t looking good for this year’s main underdog.