The Colorado Avalanche came out of Game 3 victorious 4-2 over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night. Away from home, the Avs keep a perfect 6-0 record going in this postseason and are now one win away from the Stanley Cup Final.
However, the win came with some consequences. Specifically, the big story of the game was the dirty hit Nazem Kadri was faced with. Jared Bednar said postgame the following about his status:
Per Jared Bednar, Nazem Kadri “will be out for the series if not longer.”#GoAvsGo— Conor McGahey (@ConorMcGahey) June 5, 2022
Things started off on the wrong foot for Colorado. On a confusing line change, Connor McDavid broke in and scored five-hole on a shaky Pavel Francouz. Just 38 seconds in, the Avs were already down 1-0.
The storyline of the game came just seconds later, as Evander Kane cross-checked Kadri from behind. Just three feet away from the corner boards, Kadri went down hard on his left shoulder. He stayed down for a long time as Kane was assessed a five-minute major boarding penalty, but was allowed to stay in the game.
The Avs could not convert on the 5-on-3 which included Nathan MacKinnon finding iron twice, along with an ensuing power play from Darnell Nurse who threw the puck over the glass. It was not ideal when that happened, and gave the Oilers more momentum.
Nurse would come in handy for the Avs later on though. He was trying to stop a pass from Valeri Nuchushkin, but instead deflected off the tip of his stick. The puck would squeeze just between the arm and post of Mike Smith to tie the game at one.
MacKinnon earned a penalty on Leon Draisaitl by tripping him and knocking him down for the second time in the period. The opposite No. 29 didn’t look very comfortable, but his teammate Zack Kassian almost scored on an empty net before Bowen Byram stepped in and stopped a clear goal as the puck sat in the crease all alone. It kept the game tied heading into the break.
Both goaltenders started the period well, even after Smith was a little shaken up by a hit up high by a skate. Smith would allow the only goal of the period, however. He was caught out by Nichushkin once again who shot the puck away from Smith as he was moving right to left. It gave the Avs a nice 2-1 lead.
Things settled down in the middle portion of the period when it sounded like a pin could drop in the crowd. Smith would continue to keep his team in the hunt, as they could not get much going offensively. They looked to find anything heading into the dressing room still down 2-1.
Things were eventful for the Avs defensemen, as Josh Manson hurt himself on the rush going back-first into the boards. Cale Makar was then high-sticked leading to yet another unsuccessful power play. It would cost them, as Ryan McLeod tied it at two beating Francouz.
J.T. Compher was also called for a phantom trip on Draisaitl just after Erik Johnson was tripped and not called. It was close to being disastrous as McDavid nearly took the lead before Francouz’s glove robbed him in spectacular fashion.
As the power play expired, Evan Bouchard found iron and then was beat by Compher getting to the puck in his own defensive end. It let Compher in all alone and he beat Smith five-hole cheaply to give the Avs the lead back at 3-2.
The Avs had just under six minutes left to close out the deal after the Compher goal. Nichushkin almost had his hat-trick before Smith robbed him with his blocker. On the other end, Artturi Lehkonen made some key blocks as did Mikko Rantanen. The Moose would be rewarded with the empty-net goal to close it out 4-2 thanks to a couple of blocks and an interception to get the empty-netter.
Let’s get the negatives of the game out of the way first: the power play needs some sort of revamp. They had seven minutes of man-advantage time alone in the first period and couldn’t convert. They ended the night 0-for-4 despite having good chances during the four power plays. The coaching staff needs to find something different so they can take advantage of those chances. When given an opportunity to put the game away at some point they have to capitalize.
Francouz started the game jitterily when he let in the first shot on goal of the game. Afterward, he calmed down and looked much better from here on out and made 27 saves. He would like to have Edmonton’s second goal back after missing the puck but made the crucial save on McDavid in the third period on the power play before the Compher go-ahead goal. He will be feeling good with a chance to clinch on Monday night.
The Avs did take quite the beating tonight. Obviously, the Kadri loss is huge. Helm got shaken up in the first period after a hit on the blue line. Manson hit the end boards hard which stung his back. They are already without Andre Burakovsky, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Samuel Girard, or Darcy Kuemper. It may be something to worry about, especially if the first two names on that list are out long-term like Kadri and if any other players go down hurt.
The Avs stay in Edmonton for Game 4 Monday night with a chance to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Final with a win. Puck drop is at 6:00 p.m. MT on TNT.