Seattle Kraken foe, Mikko Rantanen

Kraken Face A Refocused Avalanche Team in Game-7

The Seattle Kraken have reached another franchise benchmark in season number-two; their first ever Stanley Cup Playoffs Game-7.

It will happen in Denver on Sunday evening at Ball Arena and it will not be an easy task against the defending Stanley Cup champions. The Avalanche are coming off their best game of the series in the 4-1 win in Game-6 on Friday night at Climate Pledge Arena.

“The intensity level we had right from the start, I think we played simple,” Colorado forward Mikko Rantanen said postgame. “We were just skating, we were relentless. I think that was the first first time we did it for three periods, so we were just relentless on the puck and off the puck. You know, we just support everywhere on the ice and just got the win.”

The Finn has six goals in six games in the series to lead his team, a total that is tied with Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers for the most in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The stars took care of business for the Avalanche. While the 3rd and 4th lines of Colorado have failed to score a goal in the series, the top dogs have more than made up for it. Besides Rantanen’s six, Nathan MacKinnon and Artturi Lehkonen both have three.

MacKinnon dominated Game-6 despite not picking up a point.

He drove into the zone and set up the play that led to Rantanen’s game-tying goal late in the 1st period and then made a spectacular effort in keeping the puck alive on the forecheck after being knocked down in the right wing corner on a play that led to the eventual game winner.

“Tonight I felt that throughout our line-up, obviously led by our big guys, right,” Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said potgame. “Tazer” (Devon Toews), Cale (Makar), MacKinnon, Rantanen, and Lehkonen, they’re all plus-3, great night, but throughout our line-up the second effort, good conscience on the defensive side of things, engaged physically. So much quicker, like I couldn’t even recognize the team in Game-4 (a 3-2 Kraken overtime win).”

Mikko Rantanen (96) ties Game-6 in the 1st period.
Kraken Bounceback

“They (Colorado) deserved tonight, they deserved tonight’s win, they played well,” Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol said postgame. “They were a little bit better than we were. We couldn’t push our way back into the game. So now we’re going to reset, good travel day tomorrow and get after it. This is it now, right, it’s all on the line.”

It actually could have been worse. The penalty kill continues to get the job done, killing off all five Avalanche power plays in the game. Colorado is just 1-for-17 on the man advantage in the series. Part of that, in Game-6 in particular, was the play of the Kraken’s best penalty killer, Philipp Grubauer.

“Grooby” was outstanding in net for Seattle, turning aside 35 of the 38 shots that he faced.

“He’s doing what he’s been doing all series for us,” Hakstol pointed out. “His game was good. He did his job tonight, he gave us an opportunity to have a chance to come into the third period and dig ourselves out. We had a couple of pretty good chances in the first five minutes that could really change the momentum and the feel of this game. We just weren’t able to get it within one.”

Alexandar Georgiev had a comparatively easy night compared to Grooby’s, and compared to what the Kraken had put the Colorado netminder through in earlier games in the series. Georgiev made 22 saves in Game-6 with his teammates keeping many of the threats to the outside, particularly after the first period when they took the lead and the game’s momentum.

Game-7 is presently set to start a bit after 6:30 pm pacific time on Sunday evening.

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.