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Avalanche playoffs

Gut Punch: Avs Blow Game 5 to Vegas



Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire

Well, how the hell did that happen?

How did the Avs lose this game? How?

How did a two-goal lead to start the third period turn into a 2-2 game within the first three minutes? How would the Avs, so smart with the puck the first 40 minutes, make two major gaffes with it and pay both times? This whole thing went from done like dinner to an overturned table of food all over the carpet in an instant. Then, before many fans could get back into their seats, they lose 50 seconds into overtime.

What happened?

Well, this was certainly quite the gut punch. And it all was so unnecessary too. Two blunders with the puck – Andre Burakovsky on the first, Gabe Landeskog on the second – just gift-wrapped two goals to the Golden Knights early in the third period.

That instantly vaporized a first 40 minutes of hard work and smart hockey. Just like that.

It felt like the Avs just got stunned from there and lost it, in overtime. A game, and series, that had seemed over in their respective stages, is now a loss in the rubber Game 5 and potential elimination night in the madhouse of T-Mobile Arena Thursday night.

“We got to go into Vegas and win a hockey game. It’s as simple as that,” Landeskog said, trying to project confidence in a tough situation.

The Avs had just come off one of their best periods of the playoffs too, a dominant second in which they outworked and outskilled Vegas for most every second, building a 2-0 lead on a Joonas Donskoi one-timer from the slot. That’s what made the start of the third so shocking. The Avs been in such command, and just played giveaway all of a sudden.

Burakovsky threw away a puck in his own end, leading to a bunch of scrambling around and Alex Tuch putting a puck past Philipp Grubauer in front. OK, fluke goal, fluke play, won’t happen again. Still, a 2-1 game.

Down the ice came Landeskog on a 3-on-2  break, with the puck on his forehand coming down the right side. Landeskog, instead put directing the puck toward the net, threw a long cross-ice pass over to Ryan Graves, but the puck hit Graves’ backfoot and bounced the other way and an odd-man rush for the Knights.

Jonathan Marchessault put a puck past Grubauer and suddenly it was a tie game in a building with the air taken out of it.

The Avs came close a couple of times in the third, but couldn’t finish anything and it went to sudden death.

Mark Stone won it with a wrister on a mini-breakaway at 50 seconds.

It was sudden death, indeed. After everything had seemed so good too.

“It’s a game of mistakes,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “We might have had only three turnovers the whole night and each one cost us a goal. They didn’t get a lot of chances tonight, but they made us pay on enough chances to win the hockey game.”

“Go do that again except for two plays. That’s exactly what I told the team,” Bednar said.

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