Final: Colorado Avalanche 3, Seattle Kraken 2 — Series tied 1-1.
Despite Josh Manson’s obvious struggles in Game-1 coming back from long-term injury, Colorado head coach Jared Bednar came back with his veteran horses on the third pair, Manson worked with fellow-righty Erik Johnson. That presented a vulnerability the Kraken could exploit.
Up front, as we also previewed, Bednar mixed up his top two lines to start the game with Mikko Rantanen sliding down to the second line with center J.T. Compher and Valeri Nichushkin moving to the left side. Artturi Lehkonen and Evan Rodriques slotted on to the top line next to Nathan MacKinnon.
It paid off for Colorado. Postgame, Bednar described Nichushkin’s game as outstanding. “He was himself again,” after a poor Game-1.
Philipp Grubauer looked to build off a strong performance in net for the Kraken in Game-1 while Alexandar Georgiev got the nod again at the other end.
Kraken Goal Scorers:
1-0 Kraken – Even Strength – Justin Schultz (1) from Eeli Tolvanen and Yanni Gourde, 2:40
Schultz jumped into the rush late and found himself alone in the low slot where he ripped a shot five-hole on Georgiev.
2-0 Kraken – Shorthanded – Brandon Tanev (1) from Yanni Gourde, 13:27
Gourde’s one-man forecheck won the puck in the right wing corner, where he fed the puck back to a charging Tanev who went top shelf for the shortie. Gourde beat Cale Makar, MacKinnon and Compher for the puck to make the play.
— The Avalanche scored two goals 48-seconds apart to tie the game at the 7:30 mark. Artturi Lehkonen put Colorado on the board at 6:42 and with Ball Arena rocking, the Av’s rode the momentum to another goal, this time Valeri Nichushkin in front. A brief letdown from the Kraken during the Colorado surge and we had a brand new hockey game.
— 3-2 Colorado – The Avalanche dominated the scoring chances and finally broke the tie at the 12:59 mark. Defenseman Devon Toews stepped into the right wing circle to cash in on a big rebound off sustained Colorado pressure.
— Both the first goal and the game winner for the Avalanche came off of face-off wins in the offensive zone. The clean loss by Gourde in the second period resulted in a goal three seconds later and became the turning point in the hockey game. The crowd jumped back into it, Colorado got a boost, and they scored the tying goal 48-seconds later.
The game winner in the third came on a more concerted effort.
“It was actually a 50-50 puck, they did a nice job of getting the second touch on it,” Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol said postgame. “They just got under us on the rebound.”
— Shots on goal finished 41-29 in favor of the Avalanche. Power plays: Seattle 0-for-2, Colorado 0-for-2.
— Series tied 1-1. Game-3 is Saturday night in Seattle.
— Stay tuned for an intense Yanni Gourde shift diary.