In the regular-season finale on home ice, it would be the Colorado Avalanche leaving the home fans unhappy. They gave up three unanswered goals to the Nashville Predators to fall 5-4 in the shootout Thursday night.
The Avs are now 1-5 in their last six games, not on the right path to start the playoff stretch next week. It also almost aligns who the first-round opponent for the Avalanche will be, barring any upsets from tomorrow night’s games. With the loss, the President's Trophy goes to South Beach with the Florida Panthers.
Things got going quickly as Matt Benning would sit for two minutes after holding Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Cale Makar would get an early power-play goal past Cam Rittich and capitalize on the man advantage for the early lead.
Just four minutes later, newcomer Artturi Lehkonen would continue to morph his way into this Avs team. He deflected Andre Burakovsky’s shot into the twine to double the lead.
However, the Predators wouldn't simply let the Avalanche run away with it early on. In the midst of their race in the wild card seeding, it would be former Avs forward Matt Duchene cutting the lead in half.
Logan O’Connor decided it was his turn to get on the scoresheet as well. In the weirdest fashion, the puck ended up in the pants of Roman Josi and fell right within stick reach of LOC to put into a gaping net to make it 3-1 heading into the break.
After Connor Granlund was called for an early roughing penalty and killed off, it would be his teammate Ryan Johansen who managed to sneak one past Darcy Kuemper to bring it to 3-2.
However, the Avs would respond after a good amount of chances from the third line which saw J.T. Compher collect a Bowen Byram rebound to once again get the advantage back to two.
The Avs would continue to push the issue with several odd-man chances that went missing from the top line. It would cost them as Roman Josi scored a very controversial goal that was eventually ruled a goal to cut the lead back down to one heading into the third.
There were more missed opportunities by the Avs early on. They were the dominant force in the first part of the period, with the top six again unable to take their chances. It would cost them as Mattias Ekholm would draw the game level at four.
It was all Nashville from there, as they looked to come back and were threatening Kuemper at any possible moment. The Avs would pull even with some great chances on odd-man rushes but couldn’t get anything past Rittich.
There was a big penalty kill as Darren Helm went off for holding in the last 2:44 of the game. It was a crucial kill even though Filip Forsberg hit the crossbar, and it would send the game to OT.
The overtime period was very back-and-forth, with each team playing the chess match that has become 3-on-3 hockey as Peter McNabb described it. Both teams had their chances but none were really clear-cut. The big talking point from the period will be the missed cross-checking call on Johansen who cut down Kadri dangerously by the boards. The deadlock would remain at four apiece, so it was to be decided in a shootout.
Round 1— z - Mile High Hockey (@MileHighHockey) April 29, 2022
Round 2— z - Mile High Hockey (@MileHighHockey) April 29, 2022
Round 3— z - Mile High Hockey (@MileHighHockey) April 29, 2022
Nashville wins 5-4#GoAvsGo
The physicality in this game was pertinent from the get-go. Nashville continued to run towards Avs players all night long and threw the body around frequently. Hopefully, it didn't rough up the Avs too much with a playoff run upcoming for both teams.
Lehkonen continues to build into the game. As Andre Burakovsky said during the first intermission report, he continues to just morph in with the team and get better along the way. Now just over a month since his acquisition from the Montreal Canadiens, he looks to be a vital piece in the postseason.
The Avs went 1/6 on the power play tonight. Not good enough all-around there, and they should’ve taken their chances. Because of this, Nashville now sits one point ahead of the Dallas Stars. Dallas needs to win and hope Nashville loses tomorrow night against the Arizona Coyotes to not end up in the second wild-card spot. But at the moment, it’s looking very likely it’ll be the Dallas Stars and the Colorado Avalanche in the first-round matchup.
The Avs finish up the regular season on the road Friday night against the Minnesota Wild. The Wild are still in the midst of the race for home-ice advantage against the St. Louis Blues and this game determines their fate. Puck drop is at 6:00 p.m. MT.