FINAL: Colorado Avalanche 6, Seattle Kraken 4
No Pressure. That’s how the Colorado Avalanche approached Game-3 on the road against the Seattle Kraken with the opening round series tied at one game apiece.
“You know that home teams can feel a little bit of pressure to perform at home or do whatever they have to do,” Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar told us Saturday morning. “On the road I feel like the pressure’s off a little bit.”
Colorado didn’t panic one iota when Seattle took an early 7-1 shots-on-goal advantage and Jaden Schwartz scored on a dandy deflection in front at the 6:08 mark of the 1st period.
1-0 Kraken – Even Strength – Jaden Schwartz (1) from Justin Schultz and Alexander Wennberg, 6:08
Instead, the Avalanche turned the tide with the help of the power play. They didn’t score on their first opportunity with Kraken Carson Soucy in the penalty box for slashing, but they did start to turn the game around with sustained pressure and a renewed confidence.
Then the breaks went their way. Shorthanded on a 2-on-2 rush, Seattle forward Daniel Sprong fell down skating backwards which allowed the play to turn into a 2-on-1. Cale Makar flipped the puck to J.T. Compher who found plenty of room to operate. He deked and scored on a short breakaway.
Minutes later, a fortunate bounce through the neutral zone during a stretch of 4-on-4 hockey allowed Nathan MacKinnon to turn on the afterburners and score on a breakaway of his own. A human jet firing a missile at full speed.
The goals came at 16:07 and 19:15.
Speaking of missiles, Makar unloaded one off a clean face-off win in the Colorado offensive zone, right wing circle to give the Avalanche a 3-1 lead at the 4:33 mark. The Kraken losing clean face-offs in their D-zone has become a huge factor in this young series. That includes the Avalanche’s first goal in Game-2 after trailing 2-0. The goal gave them their confidence back, woke up the Ball Arena in Denver, and changed the complexion of the game.
Back to Game-3, and the magic hands of the ‘Big Rig’ Jamie Oleksiak took over. The Kraken’s 6-foot-7, 255-pound D-man dipsy-dooed around Mikko Koivanen in the left wing circle and ripped a backhander over the shoulder of Georgieve at 12:51.
Just 19-seconds later, Matty Beniers scored from in front on a feed from Jared McCann behind the net. It was a similar surge to the one we saw from the Avalanche in Game-2 when they scored twice in 48-seconds to tie that game.
3-2 Avalanche – Even Strength – Jamie Oleksiak (1) from Yanni Gourde and Oliver Bjorkstrand, 12:51
3-3 Tie – Even Strength – Matty Beniers (1) from Jared McCann and Jordan Eberle, 13:10
The Avalanche owned the first five minutes of the 3rd period and they scored twice. Mikko Rantanen converted a 3-on-2 as the trailer by ripping a shot past Grubauer and then 88-seconds later, superstar MacKinnon fired a shot top shelf, shortside from the right wing circle.
The two-goal Colorado lead was quickly re-established and the Climate Pledge Arena crowd once again lost its energy. Rantanen would add his 2nd of the night with an empty netter at 17:46.
The Kraken would tally a very late power play goal on another deflection in front from Schwartz.
6-4 Avalanche – Power Play – Jaden Schwartz (2) from Justin Schultz, 19:20
— Shots on goal favored the Avalanche 34-30. Power plays: Colorado 0-for-3, Seattle 0-for-6
— With that last number in mind, the Kraken penalty kill has been beyond impressive. Over the last month of the regular season and now three games of the playoffs, the PK has been operating at better than 90%.
— The Kraken have put themselves in a ‘must win’ situation. The series wouldn’t end with a loss in the next game, but it would present Seattle with an almost insurmountable task. Game-4 is Monday night at Climate Pledge Arena, scheduled for 7 pm pacific.