The Colorado Avalanche have one thing that the Seattle Kraken don’t: superstars.
In game three, that was very apparent.
The trio of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Cale Makar combined for five goals and seven points, leading the Avalanche to a 6-4 win over the Seattle Kraken. The Kraken had no answer for the three stars, especially in the third period, when they watched MacKinnon and Makar do whatever they wanted on the game-winning goal. Colorado, who was the best road team in the Western Conference in the regular season, weathered an early storm and controlled the majority of the game.
With the win, the Avalanche now take their first lead in the series. Game four takes place in Seattle on Monday night.
Earlier in the day, Mikko Rantanen spoke about the Avalanche needing to get off to a good start.
That did not happen.
After a neutral zone turnover by Evan Rodrigues, the Kraken went back to work in the offensive zone. The puck rang around to Justin Schultz at the point, and his point shot was deflected into the net by Jayden Schwartz. For the third straight game, the Kraken got on the board first, and this time, it sent the crowd into a frenzy.
After Sam Girard took an interference penalty towards the end of the first, things looked like they could get dire for Colorado. A little bit of luck was on their side, though.
While killing the penalty, Cale Makar brought the puck up the ice on a 2-on-2 with J.T. Compher. Daniel Sprong, who was back on defense, fell over, turning it into an odd-man rush. Makar hit Compher, and the center beat Grubauer on his backhand, tying the game up and quieting the home crowd.
With under a minute left in the period, Nathan MacKinnon finally had his first superstar moment of the series.
In the defensive zone, he chipped the puck past Vince Dunn, and was off to the races. He broke away from Adam Larsson and entered the zone all alone against Philipp Grubauer. The goaltender, who played with MacKinnon for years, anticipated the shot on the glove side, but MacKinnon shot it under his glove rather than aiming high, fooling the goaltender and making it 2-1.
After a slow start, Colorado exited the period with a lead and a little bit of momentum.
Face-offs have been huge for the Avalanche in the series, and for the fourth time in three games, they scored a goal immediately off an offensive zone face-off win.
Alex Newhook, moved to center with the absence of Darren Helm, cleanly won his face-off back to Cale Makar. The reigning Norris Trophy winner was allowed to walk into the shot and let an absolute bomb go over the right shoulder of Philipp Grubauer, giving the Avalanche the 3-1 win.
Unfortunately for Colorado, things turned real quickly after another failed powerplay.
In the span of 19 seconds, Seattle tied it up on two big mistakes by the Avalanche.
On the first goal, a dump-in by Seattle was mishandled by Georgiev, and the Kraken were able to recover the puck. It eventually came to Jamie Oleksiak at the point, and he danced around Mikko Rantanen a little too easily. He cut to the slot on his backhand, and beat Georgiev over the glove, cutting the Avalanche lead to one.
Just moments later, Newhook turned the puck over behind his net, and eventually lost Matty Beniers in front of the net, who smacked home a loose puck to tie it up. Suddenly, after dominating the majority of the period, the Avalanche were on their heels.
They were able to kill a penalty late in the period to keep the game tied heading into the third period. That little bit of momentum seemed to help.
Just when the Avalanche needed them, their star players came to the rescue.
Devon Toews created a defensive zone turnover, and rushed up the ice on a 3-on-2. Rantanen, who was coming down the right wing, cut to the slot, and Toews fed him with a perfect pass. The 55-goal scorer one-timed it through Grubauer, giving the Avalanche the 4-3 lead.
Then came the Nathan MacKinnon show.
The star center first spun someone into the abyss, only to miss the net on his shot. The crowd of Kraken fans were even gasping at the spin move. He wasn’t done, though. Byram sent it back to MacKinnon at the point, and he made Ryan Donato look silly, going around him with ease. He carried the puck further into the zone and fired it over Grubauer’s glove, giving the Avalanche a 5-3 lead.
The once raucous crowd was now silent.
When needed, Alexandar Georgiev stood tall in net, including a save on Jordan Eberle with his blocker later in the third, keeping the Kraken at bay.
Rantanen scored another into an empty net, giving the Avalanche the three goal lead. The Kraken scored a late powerplay goal, but it didn’t matter. The Avalanche, led by their stars, and walked away with a 6-4 victory.
With a 2-1 series lead, Colorado will now look to take a stranglehold on the series Monday night during game four. The game starts at 8 PM MST.