In the end, it was the former goaltender of the Colorado Avalanche who sent the dagger through the hearts of the defending champs.
Philipp Grubauer saved his best for last, stopping 33 of the 34 shots the Avalanche sent his way, including multiple highlight reel saves on Nathan MacKinnon, as the Kraken completed their upset of Colorado with a 2-1 win. The Avalanche might have had their most consistent effort from start to finish, but couldn’t buy a goal on their former netminder. Ultimately, a lack of secondary scoring ended the season for the Avalanche, as they did not get a single goal from a bottom six forward in the series.
Colorado now heads home for a long summer, while the Kraken head to Dallas to take on the Stars.
After some pretty poor first periods in the series, the Avalanche really needed to come out strong. They did exactly that, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Colorado outshot the Kraken 16-6 in the first period, and the ice was tilted the majority of the time.
Scoring chances were 12-5 in Colorado’s favor, and their best chance came about halfway through the period. Nathan MacKinnon’s original shot was blocked, but Artturi Lehkonen sent it right back to him. He let a quick one-timer go, and Philipp Grubauer was quick with the blocker to stop the shot.
The period ended scoreless, but Colorado got to their game quicker than they had in any of the other games in the series.
That great start? It ultimately didn’t matter, because the Kraken scored first on an absurdly flukey goal.
From behind the net, Oliver Bjorkstrand attempted a pass in front to Brandon Tanev. Alex Newhook appeared to deflect the puck, it bounced in the air, off Ben Meyers glove, and behind Alexandar Georgiev. For the seventh straight game, Seattle opened the scoring.
Bjorkstrand got another one later in the period as well. The Avalanche pushed hard in the offensive zone, maybe a little too hard, as Seattle got a break when the puck was chipped out. Bjorkstrand got behind everyone, and before Cale Makar could catch him, he fired a wrist shot off the goal post and in for the 2-0 lead.
Grubauer continued his terrific play in net, stopping Evan Rodrigues on a one-timer and MacKinnon again in the slot. It felt like the Avalanche just were not going to be beat him. But Vince Dunn tripped Denis Malgin late, giving the Avalanche the first powerplay of the night.
With just under 30 seconds left in the second, MacKinnon let one rip. Devon Toews set him up in the left circle, and he put everything he had into a one-timer. It went off the back of Mikko Rantanen’s pants and past Grubauer, giving the Avalanche a much needed marker before the end of the period.
Just a few minutes into the third period, it looked like the Avalanche had tied it up. After some tough work along the boards, Rantanen carried the puck to the center of the ice, hitting Toews along the wall. Toews immediately hit a wide-open MacKinnon in the high slot, and he blasted a one-timer past Grubauer. The crowd, which had been tense, went insane.
That ended quickly.
The Kraken challenged the goal immediately for offsides, and they won. Lehkonen was pretty clearly in the zone before the puck entered, so the goal was called back.
The rest of the period, Seattle kept the Avalanche at bay, as the disallowed goal seemed to kill a lot of the momentum for the home team. Seattle probably had the best chances, as Bjorkstrand hit two posts and was robbed by Georgiev on an odd-man rush.
Colorado fought hard, but couldn’t find that extra gear after a long season. Their former goaltender ended their season, as the Kraken walked out of Ball Arena with a 2-1 win and sent the Avalanche to an early summer.
Colorado now enters an offseason where they’ll have tough decisions to make, as two of their top six forwards are unrestricted free agents. There are also question marks around the status of both Gabriel Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin. Hopefully the team provides more clarity on them soon.
It’s officially the summer for the Avalanche, and a lot earlier then they expected.