Kraken 1st Period
The Colorado Avalanche finally start a game in the Seattle Kraken zone. Lusty booing (TM) greets Colorado defenseman Cale Makar, who helpfully flubs a shooting chance.
Kraken defenseman Will Borgen will have none of Nathan MacKinnon’s fancy power moves, blocking his way to the roar of an approving Climate Pledge Arena sellout.
Colorado’s best player in the series, Mikko Rantanen, is hooked. Seattle, 11 of 12 on killing Avalanche power plays to this point, goes shorthanded at 8:02. Philipp Grubauer makes four saves, including a pair on Rantanen, to keep the game scoreless.
Colorado appears to score first at 14:31, a perfectly placed dart by Bowen Byram. Not so fast, though – Seattle coach Dave Hakstol challenges for offside. After review, the officials agree – no goal.
Lusty booing (TM) update: The fans continue to ride Makar when he touches the puck, but erupt in cheers when Seattle defenseman Jamie Oleksiak checks him (legally) onto the ice.
The Kraken score first for the sixth straight game. Vince Dunn, sometimes shaky defensively in the series, scores on a heavy shot from the far boards at 15:48. Dunn is the 14th different Kraken to score in the postseason.
The Kraken can’t extend the lead at 17:00 when Colorado’s Denis Malgin is called for hooking. Then with 19.4 seconds remaining in the period, Colorado gets one that counts. Grubauer saves the initial shot by Devon Towes, but Rantanen – who else – collects the rebound and ties the game 1-1. Colorado leads in shots after one, 13-10.
Grubauer has performed best against his former mates from Denver. During the regular season, Grubauer went 2-0-1, posting a 1.70 GAA and .928 save percentage. In the first five games of this series, he’s sported a 2.61 GAA and .918 save percentage. Whether the Kraken can close out the Avalanche will hinge on whether he keeps that up.
On an early Avalanche power play, Rantanen is finally denied – by the right post. Mikko was bidding for his 7th goal of the series and second of the night. Seattle’s shorthanded mastery, 13 of 14, reaches second-best among playoff teams.
Colorado takes a 2-1 lead at 7:21. Grubauer is screened as Erik Johnson’s wrister down the slot sails past him. Rantanen – are we sure there’s only one of him? – picks up his third assist and ninth point in 5-plus games. MacKinnon won’t get an assist, but his strong board play kept the puck in the zone.
The defending champions have tilted the ice; rookie callup Tye Kartye takes an interference penalty at 10:07. Colorado sported the sixth best power play in the regular season, but again can’t solve the shorthanded Kraken. In fact, Artturi Lehkonen is called for slashing at 11:17.
In the ensuing scrum, Borgen and Rantanen receive roughing minors. Mikko can’t score from the penalty box, can he?
Later, as play continues, a referee mimes a one-arm chicken wing. He’s indicating an Avalanche player who fell was locked up with a Kraken defender, negating any Seattle penalty.
Not all playoff goals are greasy. At 16:57, Colorado goes up 3-1. Makar feeds cross-ice to Toews, whose shot-pass is deflected in by Lehkonen.
With two minutes left in the period, it’s Colorado’s turn to be upset about a questionable hit. Jordan Eberle plasters Andrew Cogliano from behind into the boards. Applying the same standards as Makar’s Game-4 hit on Jared McCann, Eberle is assessed only a boarding minor.
Whatever else has deserted the Kraken, their penalty killing remains stellar, now four of four tonight. Borgen breaks up a late two-on-one to keep the score 3-1 Avalanche. Shots in the period: 14-4 Colorado, 27-14 total.
Two minutes into the third period, Alex Wennberg’s tenacious board work induces Alex Newhook into a holding minor. Seattle, 0-2 on the power play, badly needs one here. They don’t get it.
Lusty booing (TM) update: like their heroes’ play, the fans have lost some of their lustiness.
Nine minutes into a listless third period, the Kraken have added just four shots, none of them grade-A variety. The reigning champs are playing with a poise they didn’t display in earlier games. The Kraken sorely miss McCann, a 40-goal scorer.
On Colorado’s fifth power play late in the game, Lehkonen falls on Grubauer, dislodging his mask, to which he takes exception. This loss won’t be on the Seattle goalie, who stopped 35 of 38 shots he faced. Without him, Lehkonen adds an empty-netter.
Colorado wins 4-1, knotting the series at three games apiece. Each team has won two of three on enemy ice. Colorado was the 3rd-best road team in the regular season, while the Kraken tied for 4th. Seattle can only hope that trend continues in the decisive Game-7 in Denver on Sunday.