The Colorado Avalanche started slow, gave up the lead, and couldn’t pull a rabbit out of the bag late for a second time as the Arizona Coyotes won Game 3 by a score of 4-2. The First Round series is still 2-1 in Colorado’s favor, but there’s only one game in it now.
Andre Burakovsky and Mikko Rantanen scored the two goals for the Avalanche, while Pavel Francouz stopped 19 of 21 in the loss. The two empty net goals late in the game were the difference. Darcy Kuemper stopped 49 of 51 in the win, but unfortunately the volume didn’t match the quality of chances against.
The Avalanche had a really slow start to the period, giving up seven shots and taking only three before the first goal of the game that ended up in the back of their net. Phil Kessel had a great chance in the early going but it was Derek Stepan from Clayton Keller and Taylor Hall who opened the scoring from right in front of the net. Francouz had lost his stick earlier in the play and as the puck came to the blue paint Joonas Donskoi did nothing to tie up Stepans stick.
The Avalanche looked better once they were down, but they were down after the first period. The Kadri line struggled offensively, with only Kadri getting a shot when his line was on the ice. He was separated from Gabriel Landeskog for this game, and while it’s boosted the MacKinnon line, early results showed a decline in the rest of the lineup. Returnee Donskoi did himself no favours going -7 in shot share (zero for) and being the culprit on the goal against.
In terms of shot locations, the Coyotes were getting everything from the front of the net, while the Avalanche were shooting mostly from the wings.
The Avalanche got back-to-back power play opportunities thanks to draws from Kadri and Valeri Nichushkin. Kadri had a chance on the first power play, tipping a MacKinnon shot just barely wide. Andre Burakovsky got the goal at the end of the second power play with a great shot through traffic. As is often the case with the second power play unit, Samuel Girard got the lone assist on the goal.
Erik Johnson left the game for a bit after blocking two shots from Kessel on the same shift. He fell like a rock on the first shot, stayed in the play, and blocked a second before he was able to get off the ice between whistles. He did return later in the second period, barely missing a shift.
Brad Richardson put the Yotes back up front with a goal late in the period. His shot from the left faceoff dot off a rush beat Francouz clean. Conor Garland made a great pass across the ice while all the Avalanche spilled deep into their zone and left the middle of the ice free.
It was a big offensive shift for the Avalanche, who had a lot more shots than the Coyotes (17-9). Unfortunately, they were still only limited to the perimeter except on the power play.
The third period was frustratingly devoid of major chances for the Avalanche as the Coyotes completely shut down the middle of their defensive zone. The Avalanche were picking and prodding as much as they could, getting 48 shots on goal with two minutes left in the game, but Darcy Kuemper didn’t look bothered and stopped everything he needed to.
The Avalanche pulled Francouz with two minutes left in the game. Carl Soderberg nearly scored on the empty net while pushing the puck up the wall in the neutral zone, but it was Hall who buried the insurance goal from his own zone.
Wait just a second. Mikko Rantanen scored with just under a minute left following a faceoff win by Kadri. The puck deflected off two Coyotes before it snuck through the pads of Kuemper. Cale Makar got the lone assist on the goal.
Ah, nevermind. Lawson Crouse buried a second empty-net goal.
- Kadri and MacKinnon were first Avs with tandem to share five-game playoff point streaks since Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg in 2004. Both of those streaks ended in this game, though the two gave it their best effort with 10 combined shots in the game and Kadri having won the faceoff that led to the 2-3 goal. I guess all streaks have to end at some point.
- I thought Donskoi struggled a lot after missing the last game. A lot of the depth, namely him and Nichushkin, looked terrible from a stats perspective after a bad start. Kadri pulled it together near the end and looked engaged all game, he was great on faceoffs.
- The fourth line was fine, they killed their opposition when they were on the ice, but it goes without saying that they weren’t going to provide much offense. The lack of having to play defense was worthwhile, especially against a team where your depth should be beating up on their depth.
- Tyson Jost had one of his better games. The third line looked pretty great and he was showing a scoring touch from the middle of the offensive zone that was very pleasant to see. Jost finished the game with five shot attempts, four on goal, and three from a high danger position. He was only behind Rantanen (who had four) in that last stat.
- EJ doesn’t look hampered after blocking those shots, through he and Girard got roughed up pretty badly in terms of shot share. Cale Makar was on the ice for 40 shot attempts for at 5v5 in this game, which is an insane number in just 20 minutes. Understandably, most of his minutes were with the MacKinnon line who also ran over their competition while trying to tie the game.
- The goal moving forward should be to lead early rather than try to salvage a game late.
The Avalanche get a day off tomorrow and will face the Coyotes on Monday at 3:30pm MT on NBCSN.