When the Stanley Cup Playoffs began this year I believed that it was the Colorado Avalanche’s time to shine. Nathan MacKinnon was playing out of his mind, Cale Makar was looking like his old self after the injury and the team was firing on all cylinders going into round one. They made quick work of the St. Louis Blues but their run ended at the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights in six games. After going down 2-0 in the series, Vegas flipped a switch and showed the Avalanche how you have to play to win in the playoffs. Here’s the recap of Vegas’ huge game six win that propelled them to the Stanley Cup Semi-finals.
The first period of the game featured three goals. The first scored by Devon Toews just 23 seconds into the opening period. Toews would receive a beautiful cross-ice feed from MacKinnon and rifle a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury for a 1-0 Avalanche lead. Toews, acquired from the New York Islanders for two picks last summer, has been a huge part of the Avs blueline this year and gave the Avs hope early in the first that they could turn this around. Vegas would quickly squash their hopes. Nick Holden would score barely a minute later with a wrister from the point that somehow eluded Phillipp Grubauer to tie the game at one. You can be sure Gruabauer wanted that one back. William Karlsson would score with about five minutes left in the period after receiving one of the sleekest passes I’ve ever seen from Alec Martinez. Karlsson would one-time the puck past Grubauer for a 2- Vegas lead. That score would hold up going into the intermission.
Mikko Rantanen would give the Avs life early in the second period when his wrist shot deflected off a skate and past Fleury to tie the game at two but Vegas would again reclaim the lead about 14 minutes into the period when Keegan Kolesar would get his first of the post season. After a faceoff win in the Avs zone, Alex Pietrangelo would fire the puck on net which Kolesar deflected past Grubauer to give Vegas a 3-2 lead. This was already looking like the best game of the playoffs and we were far from done. The Avs would respond just two minutes later as Andre Burakovsky would laser a shot from the top of the circles past Fleury to tie the game at three. The Avs were playing with their backs against the wall and they were doing all they could to force Game Seven. The Avs almost made it to the locker room tied at three but Alex Pietrangelo had other ideas. Pietrangelo would score a back breaking, emotion killing goal at 19:42 of the second period. Alex Tuch’s shot would rebound off the end boards and right to Pietrangelo who roofed the puck over Grubauer for a 4-3 Knights lead. Vegas would enter the lock room up 4-3 and they would never relinquish the lead again.
William Carrier would score at 11:46 of the third on a triple deflected shot and Max Pacioretty would nail the empty net late in the third to give Vegas a 6-3 win and a 4-2 series win. The Golden Knights were down 2-0 and never stopped believing. They now move on to face the Cinderella Story Montreal Canadiens in the semi-finals. The Avalanche are left with more questions, most importantly, what can they really do different or change with their squad? Good luck to the Golden Knights the rest of the way!