The Colorado Avalanche had a 2-0 lead and a 3-1 lead in Game 1 over the Tampa Bay Lightning. They won the game in overtime thanks to an Andre Burakovsky one-timer 1:23 seconds in. Tonight, the Avalanche got the lead and then maintained it for 60 minutes. After going up 3-0 in the first, they never looked back.
Special teams continued to be effective as Valeri Nichushkin got the Avalanche on the boards first and early. Nichushkin showed what he was capable of in the regular season, and yet had another level still to bring. In two games he as three goals against the Lighting and 13 points through the playoffs. He is due for a large contract extension this offseason especially how he had played in the playoffs.
“He’s a train for us,” said Makar, “He’s such a hardworking guy and it shows on the ice.”
He’s so valuable for us in every single zone, whether it’s even just pickin gup speed in the neutral zone and getting that o-zone entry or helping all the d-zone breakout.” Said Makar.
Darcy Kuemper didn’t face a lot of shots, 17 to be exact, earning the shutout. He kept his cool as the Lighting tried to rattle his cage. Just like the rest of his teammates, the Avalanche stayed calm, cool and collected as they didn’t take unnecessary penalties to allow the Lighting back into the game. Kuemper played big and confident. Just the game he needed to have.
“Yea they got guys, that’s how they play. It is what it is.” said Darcy Kuemper on the Lighting playing aggressive in the crease.
Mikko Rantanen has found himself with a five game point streak, which started Game 1 against the Edmonton Oilers. He has compiled 11 points since then with the three assists tonight.
“I thought Mikko was really good too,” said Bednar, “I mean that line right away, to get us going, it looked like he was making really good decisions with the puck as well as making plays, going to the net hard and strong.”
Coach Bednar spoke all year about this teams depth and ability to score in different ways and we saw that on display tonight. Scoring in the playoffs is already a challenge, scoring seven goals on the defending back-to-back champions and the best goalie in the NHL is no small feat. The Avalanche mindset won’t change however, even after a blowout win.
“Our goal is to go out an better that performance again.” said Bednar.
The Avalanche will head to Tampa with a well earned 2-0 series lead. They remain undefeated on the road this year and but you can imagine that Tampa will want to rebound after being embarrassed in Denver.