#2 Vegas Golden Knights v. #1 Colorado Avalanche – Game 1
Before the playoffs began, TXHT Editor-in-Chief Michael asked us writers if we wanted to cover any team in particular for the duration of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Right off the bat I knew I wanted the Colorado Avalanche. The skill and speed they use to dominate their opponents is extremely fun to watch and Nathan MacKinnon might be one of the most fun players to ever grace an NHL rink. Throw in Gabriel Landeskog, Cale Makar, Mikko Rantanen, Samuel Girard and the rest of this powerhouse team and you can see why the Avalanche are not only my favorite team in the playoffs this year but also my pick to win it all. To get to their ultimate goal the Avalanche need to beat a deep Vegas Golden Knights squad and Game One was their first chance to make a statement… and boy did they make a statement.
The Avalanche were rested and ready to go against a weary Golden Knights squad that just fought in and won a hard fought seven game series against the Minnesota Wild. Just 4:55 into the first period, the Avalanche struck. Mikko Rantanen would receive a beautiful pass from Devon Toews and then rifle a backhander past Robin Lehner for a 1-0 Avalanche lead. Rantanen wouldn’t be the only goal scorer of the period, Gabriel Landeskog would join in the fun next at 10:13 of the first period. The Avalanche would work the puck around the zone and it would eventually end up on the stick of Cale Makar. Makar would laser a cross ice pass to a wide open Landeskog who snapped the puck past Lehner for a 2-0 Avalanche lead. The Avalanche would head to the locker room with a 2-0 lead and the first statement in the war had been made.
The second period was even more of a horror show for the Golden Knights than the first. At just 1:04 of the second period Brandon Saad would shoot the puck past Lehner after jumping on a missed shot from Valeri Nichushkin. 3-0 in the blink of an eye. The Golden Knights would cough another one up just three minutes later. At 4:03 of the second period, Nathan MacKinnon would score his 7th goal in just FIVE games. MacKinnon would take nice little pass from Ryan Graves and shoot it five-hole on Robin Lehner for a 4-0 Avalanche lead. We weren’t even five minutes into the second yet. Ten minutes later, the Avalanche would strike again when Landeskog would score his fourth of the playoffs. Landeskog, MacKinnon and Rantanen would team up for a beautiful tic-tac-tie power-play goal to give the Avalanche a 5-0 lead. The Avalanche’s top trio was just torching the Golden Knight’s and they still weren’t done for the night. The Golden Knights would finally show some life at 14:59 of the second period.
William “Wild Bill” Karlsson would finally break through by tapping a pass from Max Pacioretty past Philipp Grubauer to cut the Avalanche’s lead to four goals. That would be the first and only goal of the night for Vegas. At 17:05 of the second period, MacKinnon would strike again for EIGHTH goal of the playoffs, in just five games. This might’ve been one of the prettiest goals I’ve seen this entire season. MacKinnon would receive the puck in the neutral zone, turn on the jets, break past the Vegas defense and chip a shot top shelf past Lehner for a 6-1 Avalanche lead. MacKinnon has been damn near unstoppable these playoffs. The nightmare would continue for the Avalanche yet again at 15:49 of the third period. Cale Makar would score his second of the playoffs after blasting a one-timer past Lehner for a 7-1 Avalanche lead. It was his fourth point of the night.
The Avalanche damn sure made a statement in game one with a dominating 7-1 win. The Golden Knights better figure it out quick or else this series will be over early. Game two is Wednesday, June 2nd at 10:00 pm at Ball Arena.