The last 36 hours have been a wild ride for Colorado Avalanche Fans.
After dropping Game 1 of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs 4-0 to the Calgary Flames, the Avs rebounded and won 3-2 in overtime late Saturday night, both games on the road in Calgary.
Home#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/o2CmyPVZm2— x- Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) April 14, 2019
And if that game didn’t stress everyone out enough, Cale Makar and UMass lost to Minnesota Duluth in the NCAA championship on Saturday night, and at 11:30 am on Sunday, Makar officially signed his contract with the Avs.
The show is coming to Denver at 8 pm with the series lead on the line, and Makar’s NHL debut.
Nathan MacKinnon was the hero of last night’s game, scoring the game winner eight and a half minutes into overtime. That was MacKinnon’s first point of the playoffs, and his 17th career playoff point.
After a lackluster offensive performance on Thursday, their three goals were scored by the help of six skaters. Nieto scored his shorthander unassisted, but J.T. Compher was assisted by Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, and MacKinnon was assisted by Rantanen and defenseman Ian Cole. This much action is encouraging. Hopefully the playoff nerves were left behind in Calgary and the offense can continue receiving contributions from everyone.
The most exciting part of tonight’s game will be waiting to see Makar play. He just finished the longest college season of his career and will have had just one day off, but Sunday was spent traveling from Buffalo to Denver. He can help this team immediately.
Makar will be replacing Sam Girard in the lineup. He will line up with Patrik Nemeth to start but coach Bednar said he will be “moved around.” Makar was also the QB on the second PP unit during the morning skate.
Girard is said to be day-to-day with an upper body injury.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Alexander Kerfoot
Colin Wilson - Carl Soderberg - Mikko Rantanen
Matt Nieto - Derick Brassard - J.T. Compher
Matt Calvert - Tyson Jost - Sven Andrighetto
Ian Cole - Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov - Tyson Barrie
Patrik Nemeth - Cale Makar
The Flames defeated the Avs at the Pepsi center 3-2 in overtime in October. Sam Bennett, Elias Lindholm, and Johnny Gaudreau each scored in that game. Then, and in the last two games, the Flames have been producing up and down their lineup, so it remains to be seen who will have the hot stick tonight.
Both teams arrived in the Mile High City yesterday, after playing games at 3,000 feet above sea level. The Flames haven’t been to Denver since October, so we will have to see how a long regular season and an extra 2,000 feet in elevation will impact their speed during the series.
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm
Mathew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Michael Frolik
Sam Bennett - Mark Jankowski - James Neal
Andrew Mangiapane - Derek Ryan - Garnet Hathaway
Mark Giordano - T.J. Brodie
Noah Hanifin - Travis Hamonic
Oscar Fantenberg - Rasmus Andersson
We have a more in-depth breakdown of the two teams going into the series here.
Philipp Grubauer is hot at the right time. He stopped 28 of 31 shots on Thursday and 35 of 37 on Saturday. Before Thursday, his last regular season loss was March 11 against the Carolina Hurricanes. Grubauer did not play in any of the regular season games against the Flames, so this will be his first time facing them at the Pepsi Center.
Mike Smith is also preparing for his first game against the Avs at the Pepsi Center this season. He allowed three goals on 65 shots in the first two games, and is 1-1 so far this postseason. He is 11-9 career in the playoffs.