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Preview: Colorado aims to maintain their series advantage

Can Colorado go repeat their dominance and go up two games to none?

NHL: Nashville Predators at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche and Nashville Predators meet this evening for game two of the first round at Ball Arena in Denver, CO. Colorado dominated Nashville in Game 1 on Tuesday and will look to do the same tonight. The Predators will have to bring their best to be taken seriously after giving up five goals in the first period of Game 1.

COLORADO AVALANCHE

It’s hard to tell if the Avalanche were too much for Nashville or just too much for their starting netminder Dave Rittich. “Big Save Dave” gave up two goals in just under three minutes, struggled to find anything to build off, and was eventually replaced by young Connor Ingram. The Avalanche had more goals than the Predators had shots on net late in the period.

Game one against Nashville felt like Game 1 against the Vegas Golden Knights last season. Nashville didn’t look anything like the team they are capable of being. I’d expect to see the best Nashville offers in Game 2 if my intuition is accurate. Can Colorado continue to keep their cool after the whistle and not let the Predators dictate the game’s level of physicality? That will be key in going up two games to none before the trip to Nashville for game three.

Projected Lineup:

Valeri Nichushkin — Nathan MacKinnon — Mikko Rantanen
Gabriel Landeskog — Nazem Kadri — Artturi Lehkonen
Andre Burakovsky — JT Compher — Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Logan O’Connor — Nico Sturm — Darren Helm

Devon Toews — Cale Makar
Samuel Girard — Josh Manson
Bowen Byram — Erik Johnson

Note: Jared Bednar was very coy when asked about the status of the fourth-liner Andrew Cogliano on Altitude Radio 92.5 this morning. After it was determined he won’t go, it’s expected that he’ll be replaced by Logan O’Connor, who was a scratch in Game 1.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

The Predators will come into tonight’s contest seeking to legitimize themselves after Tuesday’s onslaught. Nation pundits and fans don’t see this as a competitive series, especially with Juuse Saros being out for at least another game. Connor Ingram provided some security after he replaced Rittich, but he lacks experience, which could show itself at any moment.

Matt Duchene was the only Predator that showed up to game one. He ironically scored his second goal of the evening while Avalanche fans chanted, “Duchene sucks!” Maybe we should refrain this time around. Maybe not.

Projected Lineup:

Filip Forsberg — Mikael Granlund — Matt Duchene
Luke Kunin — Ryan Johansen — Philip Tomasino
Tanner Jeannot — Colton Sissons — Yakov Trenin
Nick Cousins — Michael McCarron — Mathieu Oliver

Roman Josi — Dante Fabbro
Mattias Ekholm — Alexandre Carrier
Mark Borowiecki — Matt Benning

Injuries: Jeremy Lauzon (OUT), Juuse Saros (OUT)

GOALTENDING

Darcy Kuemper will get the start for Colorado after giving up just two goals in Game 1. Kuemper made some very lovely saves despite not being tested very much. His best save came when he was challenged on just the fourth shot for Nashville late into period one. He should have a more robust challenge this evening.

Nashville will go with Ingram in the net for game two. Rittich looked not so good, and Ingram gave up two goals in two periods after replacing Dave. It’s easy to say Ingram looked better than Rittich, but it’s also easy to be loose and look good while your team is down big and you have nothing to lose. With Ingram getting the start, expect the Avalanche to pepper him early and often.