The Colorado Avalanche are not listening to the chatter. The boys in burgundy pulled even with the San Jose Sharks with a 3-0 win on Thursday night.
There’s a cloud that falls over Denver when their teams lose in the playoffs. We tend to overreact to losses and adopt a “here we go again” mentality. For the Denver Nuggets it has a name, NuggLyfe. For the Colorado Avalanche, there’s not a specific moniker attached to that gut feeling that the things that make them lose are precursor to things to come.
So when the Avalanche were feeling themselves a little bit, holding a 1-1 series standoff with the Sharks and playing in front of a raucous Pepsi Center crowd, it was par-for-the-course that they dropped the game and gave home-ice advantage right back to the Sharks. Coach Jared Bednar was disappointed in the effort and it was a huge letdown after taking game two in San Jose.
That’s where Colorado stood coming into Thursday night’s game, on the edge of surrendering a commanding 3-1 series lead to the Sharks and a near impossible road to the Conference Finals. That’s how it felt anyway but true to Colorado Avalanche fashion during their time under Bednar, the Avalanche played their best game of the playoffs and coasted to a 3-0 win to knot the series at two.
Nathan MacKinnon continued a red-hot playoffs that has him second in goals (6) and first in playoff scoring with 13 points. Mackinnon scored the first goal of the game for the Avalanche on a rebound to the right of Sharks netminder Martin Jones. It broke a scoreless tie midway through the second and proved to be all the offense the Colorado Avalanche would need.
Avs goalie Philipp Grubauer captured his first playoff shutout, turning aside all 32 San Jose shots. Colorado’s penalty kill was also in full bloom in front of the outstanding Grubauer, allowing only two shots on three power play chances for the Sharks (one cut short by SJ penalty).
Defenseman Erik Johnson netted his second goal of the playoffs and Colin Wilson scored his fourth. Mikko Rantanen assisted on Mac and Wilson’s goals for his 7th and 8th helpers of the playoffs. Cale Makar continues to impress, grabbing his fourth assist (also on Mac’s goal) and and fifth point in just five playoff games.
Makar stands as the inspiration for this young squad as much as Nathan MacKinnon brings the smoke. The Avalanche have discovered a deadly combination of defense, goaltending and balanced scoring that has us thinking big things.
What those things are can wait until this series has ended but it’s not hard to imagine the Avs doing to the West what the Blue Jackets are doing to the East.