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Colorado Avalanche

Avalanche Live To Fight Another Day, Force Game Six With Win

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Avalanche

Just like they did last year in Seattle, the Colorado Avalanche showed they’ve still got some fight left in them when the chips are down. Whether or not they can come back and win the series is another story, but for now, they live to fight another day.

The powerplay kept the Avalanche alive through two periods until the even strength offense came through in the third, where Colorado picked up three goals on their way to a 5-3 victory. Colorado’s stars, who have struggled the last few games, came to life on Wednesday night, led by Cale Makar, who was dancing all night long on his way to two goals.

Nathan MacKinnon, Artturi Lehkonen, and Casey Mittelstadt scored the other goals for the Avalanche, while Alexandar Georgiev stopped 23 shots in the win.

First Period

I must say, for a playoff game (an elimination game, no less), there was absolutely no energy in the building. This was a slightly earlier start time than the previous games, but 7 PM local is still plenty late enough for everyone to get to their seats. That wasn’t the case. Fans trickled in late, and the result was a dead building for about the first eight minutes of the game, which were pretty even.

At the 9:03 mark, the Stars gave those fans something to cheer for.

A harmless dump-in from center ice created a goal with some hard work from the home team, as Jason Robertson managed to poke the puck off Josh Manson’s stick, directly to Matt Duchene. The former Avalanche forward quickly sent the puck in front, where Joe Pavelski backhanded it home for his first goal of the series.

Colorado did bounce back, but couldn’t find the equalizer. Cale Makar created some of the best chances for the Avalanche with his skating, dancing around Jason Robertson at the point at one point, but Jake Oettinger stuck with him, getting his blocker on the star defenseman’s shot.

With under two minutes remaining, Nathan MacKinnon drew a penalty on Ryan Suter, sending Colorado to the powerplay. It looked like the Stars were going to get out of the period with the lead, but the Avalanche had other ideas.

With 0.6 seconds left on the clock, Nathan MacKinnon fed a wide open Artturi Lehkonen in the slot, who beat the buzzer to tie the game up. A crucial goal to keep the game tight.

Second Period

Period two really didn’t bring much more in terms of high-end action. There was a brief spurt about halfway through the period where both teams traded a few chances, but nothing came of it. The biggest cheer of the second from the home crowd came when Esa Lindell hammered Josh Manson along the boards.

Dallas would catch a break a little over halfway through the period, as a tired Devon Toews fired the puck over the boards to give the Stars a powerplay. A total breakdown defensively by the Avalanche allowed them to take the lead, as Jason Robertson and Miro Heiskanen somehow ended up on a 2-on-0, which Heiskanen buried. A baffling mistake at that point in the game.

At 16:16 of the period, there was some controversy. Chris Tanev clearly got his stick up on Mikko Rantanen after the whistle, and it sure looked to draw blood. However, the refs only gave Tanev a minor instead of a double-minor. A confusing decision, but Colorado at least made sure the Stars paid for their mistake. After some good puck movement, Cale Makar got the puck at the point and was able to walk in. Just like he did in Game One, he placed a wrister perfectly through traffic and over the glove of Oettinger, tying the game up.

The goal at the end of the first mattered a whole heck of a lot, and this one certainly did as well.

Third Period

A lead for the Avalanche? In this economy? Early in the first, that dream became a reality. A bouncing puck all over the offensive zone trickled through the crease, right to Casey Mittelstadt. The Avalanche center smacked it towards the net, and it banked off Oettinger and in, giving Colorado their first lead of the series.

Three minutes later, Makar extended that work. With some fancy footwork at the offensive blueline, which was on display all evening long, Makar moved past Tyler Seguin to give himself some space. He tried to pass it down low to the winger in front, but it hit Harley’s stick and went right through Oettinger’s legs, making it 4-2. A one goal lead became a two goal lead in just a matter of minutes, but not so fast.

Just 1:16 after Makar’s goal, Devon Toews’ breakout pass found no one, landing right on the stick of Lindell. His point shot was tipped in the high slot by Logan Stankoven, cutting the lead back down to one.

That’s as close as the Stars would get.

With just over three minutes left in the period, the hard work of Artturi Lehkonen created a zone entry, where he dropped the puck to a trailing Nathan MacKinnon. The Avalanche superstar worked in and fired it past the glove of Oettinger, making it 5-3. The Stars got a late powerplay, but couldn’t create anything on it, and Colorado walked away with the victory, forcing a Game Six.

Game Six will take place at Ball Arena back in Denver on Friday night. The start time for that one will be 8 PM MST.

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John Mauss

How many times has Rantanen taken a penalty in his offensive end with the Avs leading very late in the game?

Jeffrey Anderson

Gutsy win.nice to play with a lead. I guess MacF won’t be trading Cale for a few days after that performance…

ricoflashback

Yes – Cale showed up. Finally. Mac has been the one consistent player all year long. I anticipate an Avs Game Six win. But can they win three games in Dallas? To do so, they’ll have to play better defensively on clear outs. Too late getting to the puck and not enough of a sense of urgency in winning the one on one battles down low. The bonehead plays have to stop. And of course, stupid penalties with none worse than Rants brain dead trip. I thought Georgie was fantastic. A lot of key saves to keep Dallas from getting… Read more »

john jung

Nice bounce back. We still have two superstars in MacKinnon and Makar who performed tonight. Perhaps Drouin, Mittlestadt and the rest can rise to the occasion and pull this off. Our defensive unit is still a strength, along with our goal tending (I believe Georgiev is underrated). The good news is that if we can beat Dallas, then we can beat any of the remaining teams, from what I can see. None of the remaining teams seems head-and-shoulders above any other team.

Aaron Hinton

In the words of the immortal John McClane to Sgt. Al Powell just outside of Nakotomi Plaza: Welcome to the party, pal.

Rich Solomon

Mikko takes a rough penalty and seems to be having a rough time overall. Credit Drouin will hellatious backchecks, , trying to create space for MacK and some good emotion. Cale…great game. Georgiev…outstanding. Georgie has been fighting to keep the Avs in this series thus far, and he held tall on the final 6 on 4. Avs finally put some points on the board, and Georgiev delivered the game. Good team win. Here’s hoping the Avs get a little swagger from it, and continue the climb back here at home. If we win 5-3 at home, it will likely worry… Read more »

hockeyhead

Glad to see them bounce back after all of the adversity. This is the series to finally win a game 7!!!

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