DENVER – The Colorado Avalanche are on their way to the second round of the NHL playoffs after beating the Nashville Predators 5-3 Monday night in Nashville to complete the opening-round sweep.
André Burakovsky started off the game with a rocket through the goal — literally ripping a hole through the net. Cale Makar scored in the second period with an assist by J.T. Compher.
The game was tied 2-2 going into the third period. Nasvhille started off hot, scoring at four minutes in — but the Avs would eventually find their rhythm. Devon Toews tied the game at 3-3, while Valeri Nichushkin got the Avs the 4-3 lead. Nathan MacKinnon sealed the Avalanche's victory with an empty net goal at less than a minute left.
It was a tense game the whole night, with the lead changing several times. Before tonight, the series saw only one close game – a 2-1 overtime victory for the Avalanche in Game 2 of the series marked by stellar goaltender play for both teams, including from backup Predators goalie Connor Ingram.
But the Avs ran away with Games 1 and 3 – kicking off the series with a five-goal first period in the first game on the way to a 7-2 victory, and again scoring seven goals in Game 3 for a 7-3 win in Nashville.
And though goaltender Darcy Kemper left Game 3 after getting poked in the eye with a stick, backup Pavel Francouz stopped 18 of 20 shots to finish out the Game 3 win.
Makar, who was named a Norris Trophy finalist on Monday, started off the playoffs hot, with seven points (two goals, five assists) in the first three games of the series to match his stellar defensive work. Captain Gabriel Landeskog also came on strong, returning from knee surgery to score three goals and three assists in the first three games.
In the first three games of the series, MacKinnon had four goals and an assist; Mikko Rantanen had five assists, and Toews had two goals and two assists.
The Colorado team now moves on to round two, where they will face either the St. Louis Blues or the Minnesota Wild.
The Avalanche swept the Blues in the first round of last year’s playoffs before falling to the Vegas Golden Knights in six games in the second round. They have lost in the second round of the playoffs each of the last three seasons, and lost in the first round of the 2017-18 playoffs in coach Jared Bednar’s second season with the team.
Monday’s loss marks the first time in 15 playoff appearances the Predators have been swept out of a series.