You knew it had to happen eventually. The streaking Colorado Avalanche had won six straight playoff games until Game 3 on Friday night. In a must-win game for the Vegas Golden Knights, they rallied from behind to down the Avs and now trail two games to one. They did it the hard way by scoring two goals in 45 seconds with just over five minutes remaining in the third stanza. The Colorado Avalanche playoff streak is over. The Golden Knights may have gained some momentum and actually silenced the Avs star player Nathan MacKinnon who had four shots on goal. The key to the Vegas victory was limiting the powerful Colorado club to just 20 shots on net.
Colorado Avalanche Playoff Streak Ends With Vegas Golden Knights Win
While the Golden Knights may have stopped their nemesis MacKinnon, they couldn’t halt Mikko Rantanen who has scored a point in 17 straight playoff games. Quite a streak. It has been a strange series in that the Avs bolted off to a more than convincing trouncing of the Vegas team in Game 1 by the lopsided score of 7-1. Game 2 was much closer and a pivotal penalty against Reilly Smith in overtime gave the Avs the victory. Who scored it? That would be Rantanen, of course. The thing with Colorado is you can’t stop all the star players every game. Vegas seems to have thwarted MacKinnon only momentarily, he’s just too good to completely stop.
The Game 3 had extra help in Vegas. It was a near-sellout crowd of 17,504, which gave the Golden Knights that extra man cheering for them. It seemed to help as when the team gathered two goals in 45 seconds for a dramatic comeback, the crowd noise could have raised the roof. With Game 4 scheduled for Sunday, it holds a real mystery. Does Vegas regain the advantage from their exciting comeback win? Or, does Colorado settle down and get back to the business of putting this series in their back pocket?
Keys to The Series
Vegas showed some character by coming back late in Game 3. Yet, they can’t fall behind the Avs and expect to get back into every game. They also can’t expect Marc-Andre Fleury to carry them on his back as he has done numerous times. Philipp Grubauer made a mental error in allowing Jonathan Marchessault to bank a shot off his backside to tie the Game 3 score late. One player the Avs need to watch more closely is Max Pacioretty. He has one goal and two assists in the three games thus far and scored the game-winner in the last game on a sick deflection past Grubauer. It must be noted that young defenceman Cale Makar failed to box out Patches giving him full rein on the deflection.
Goaltending will be the key to this playoffs series as it is in almost every series. Fleury vs Grubauer is a classic matchup. In fact, this entire series is more closely matched than the first blowout game. The last two games have shown two exceptional West Division teams going at it full force. Both teams can explode at a moment’s notice. Both teams have star players who can turn a game around. Just as Vegas and their coaching staff made adjustments to overcome shortcomings in Game 1, expect the Avalanche to make their own adjustments, especially in shooting the puck on net more. 20 shots on the net will not do it in the playoffs.
Will This Series Go Seven Games?
It could. This series is as unpredictable as can be. It is for certain very entertaining hockey. If you weren’t watching every second of Game 3, especially the last five minutes, then you missed a thoroughly great game of hockey. The competition level was elite and the series could go the full seven games. The next game could be very vital; especially if the Avs can grab the win and go home to close out the series. Of course, the Golden Knights will have a different thought pattern, as they feel that the momentum has switched to them with their Game 3 heroics.
One thing is certain, the Vegas Golden Knights vs Colorado Avalanche playoff series is going to keep us all on the edge of our seats as the series winds down. Every faceoff, every shot on goal could be what turns a game around.