Night one of the Colorado Avalanche and Nashville Predators first round Stanley Cup playoff series kicked off and if Avalanche hockey had been on vacation for the last two weeks it was back with a vengeance to begin this game. A five-goal first period set the stage for an impressive effort in a 7-2 Avalanche final and 1-0 series lead.
The start to this contest couldn’t have gone much better for the Avalanche as they scored early and often on the Predators. Nathan MacKinnon converted on a power play at just 2:20 into the game and then the team rode the momentum for a Devon Toews score just 22 seconds later,
A pivotal moment occurred in the first period when Andrew a Cogliano scored his first goal as an Avalanche shorthanded at 8:30 and really took control of the game for Colorado. Cale Makar had another Norris Trophy highlight reel individual effort moment at 12:15 and then Artturi Lehkonen made it 5-0 at 15:04 on a great shot for his seventh goal as an Avalanche.
Dave Rittich saw his night was done at that point in favor of Nashville’s third goaltender Connor Ingram. It was a dominant effort in every way for the home team through 20 minutes which saw a 17-6 shot advantage in addition to the scoreboard.
It was a quieter second period as the teams traded power play goals. The Avalanche executed a much better 5-on-3 than had been seen a few games ago and Gabe Landeskog in his first game back from knee surgery poked the puck past Ingram at 14:44. The Predators got their own power play goal on their third opportunity and at 18:40 Matt Duchene got his obligatory goal to finally put Nashville on the board and the period ended 6-1 for the Avalanche.
If there was any shred of doubt left that thought was erased as MacKinnon scored his second of the night on his favored blueline shot at 6:03. Duchene got his second of the night as well on a breakaway at 12:26 but the game was all but over at that point. The rest of the third period devolved into message sending garbage but the Avalanche held their ground both physically and on the scoreboard to arrive at a 7-2 final and 1-0 series lead for Colorado.
It is just one game but this game was the statement that the Avalanche needed to make. It wasn’t just the scoring, though that was certainly fun and welcome, but the team played as a cohesive unit with physicality and purpose. This was the team that dominated for long stretches in the regular season and they look ready to go on a long playoff run. There’s still a lot of work ahead and one win just means there are 15 left to go but any concerns that the Avalanche wouldn’t find their game again dissipated quickly.
The game went nearly picture perfect for the Avalanche but a scary moment occurred near the end of the first when Cale Makar went head first into the boards. He played the rest of the game but something to keep an eye on. Also, Andrew Cogliano and Nico Sturm each left the bench for briefly in the second period and could be nursing some ailments moving forward, especially Cogliano who didn’t play in the third period. Health will be a key determining factor as the Avalanche embark on this journey to the Stanley Cup.
Game 2 with Nashville back at Ball Arena at 7:30 p.m. MT on Thursday, May 5th broadcast nationally on TNT.