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Avalanche Draw First Blood

Colorado edges out Edmonton in a high-scoring 8-6 series opener

The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Edmonton Oilers in a high-flying 8-6 series opener. The game lived up to the hype as both teams were absolutely flying in this one. Six different Oilers got on the goal sheet with Zach Hyman extending his scoring streak to six games and Connor McDavid continuing his torrid streak.

Mike Smith had one to forget while Mikko Koskinen looked surprisingly good against a tough Avalanche team.

This one was a wild one...I got all the details right here.

First Period:

The Oilers got the first good chance of the game less than three minutes in. Brett Kulak sent a shot from the half boards that struck iron. It was a kind of timid start from both teams. A lot of star-power meant a lot of cautious plays. But that was about to go out the window...

Evander Kane opened up the scoring off a beautiful breakaway pass from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins beating Darcy Kuemper over the glove. 1-0 Oilers just over five minutes into the series.

Colorado didn’t sit on their laurels. JT Compher converted on a 2-on-1 chance just 31 seconds later to knot things up. Both teams score on their second shot of the game for a 1-1 game.

The physicality picked up soon after the goals were scored. Leon Draisaitl took a big hit on an outlet pass while McDavid levelled an oncoming Devon Toews who was trying to take the body on #97.

The Avalanch was the first team to establish some dominance. The MacKinnon line was matched up against McDavid and they held the edge early on in this one. Their ability to maintain possession in the Edmonton zone was troublesome. Mike Smith was doing a good job at bailing his team out after some incredibly sloppy shifts.

In a particular weak point, the Oilers’ second line was absolutely caved in by Colorado’s fourth line. The Avs are probably the deepest team left in the playoffs, but Edmonton can’t afford to allow depth players to have extended periods of time in their own end.

It eventually cost them. Nathan Mackinnon gave the Avs a lead after splitting Edmonton’s D and beating Smith over the blocker. 2-1 with less than five to go in the first. The shot board read 14-3 for Colorado with 3 minutes left in the period.

The Oilers started to turn the tide late in the period. They managed to get more shots on the net and some extended time in the zone. It eventually culminated with Zach Hyman potting one with less than a minute to go. 2-2 game!

The refs decided to straight-up ignore the rules of the game and allowed the Avalanche to score a goal while egregiously offside. 3-2 game but this one should be tied. Absolute joke of a call by the officials.

Second Period:

Nazem Kadri opened up the period with a PP goal to make it 4-2 Avalanche. The goal came off the penalty the Oilers took after their ‘failed’ challenge. Edmonton found themselves in a little bit of a hole...but with plenty of hockey left to play.

Ryan McLeod responded for the Oilers quickly! Kuemper couldn’t handle a shot by Warren Foegele and McLeod buried the rebound. Edmonton right back into this one at a 4-3 game with 17 minutes left in the period.

Mikko Rantanen responded for the Avs after a breakdown in the Oilers' end and we had a scoring fest. 5-3 game. Kassian missed on a breakaway chance earlier in the shift...games shift in an instant.

JT Compher tipped in a Cale Makar shot not long after that beat Smith. 6-3 and that was it for Smith. Mikko Koskinen was in to play the remainder of this one. Speaking of goalies leaving the game, Darcy Keumper also left the game soon after with an upper body around the same time. Pavel Francouz came on in relief.

Cogliano made it 7-3 late in the period on a 2-on-1 chance. This one was slipping out of Edmonton’s hands quickly. Not to be outdone, Leon Draisaitl fed Connor McDavid about a minute later to make it a 7-4 game...this game was not calming down for anybody.

Edmonton made a good push at getting their fifth of the game with a late powerplay, but just couldn’t will it into the net. Francouz was standing on his head frankly.

The period started 3-2 and ended 7-4.

Third Period:

Mikko Rantanen nearly made it an 8-4 game on an early breakaway but he denied by the other Mikko, Koskinen, to keep it 7-4. It was a big stop as Derek Ryan eventually scored later on the play! Suddenly it was a 7-5 game with lots of hockey left! The Oilers getting some depth scoring in this one.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins made it a one-goal game on a beautiful play from Draisaitl on the PP! Edmonton keeping up their come-from-behind trend in this one as they made this one VERY interesting with 7 minutes remaining.

This sparked a furious back and forth affair as the Oilers pushed for the equalizer. Josh Archibald nearly tipped it in on a rush while Cody Ceci had a clear lane that was blocked in front. This one was really living up to the hype as it had fans on both sides on the edge of their seat.

Edmonton would push hard but just couldn’t quite complete the comeback. Gabriel Landeskog got the empty-netter to seal game one 8-6 for the Avalanche.

Takeaways:

  • I’m not a fan of the offside ruling. I see the point that was made but it was puck possession and should be offside according to the rulebook. section 83.3 of the NHL rulebook states the whistle should be blown on a delayed offside if “any member of the attacking team touches the puck, attempts to gain possession of a loose puck...”. I don’t know about you but I’m pretty sure Makar made an attempt to gain possession of a loose puck on that play. Whatever, it is what it is.
  • Way too many defensive breakdowns for the Edmonton Oilers against a very good Colorado Avalanche team. You can’t wring it around the boards and hope to get it out against this team because they will make you pay. Edmonton has to break the puck out of their end and not allow themselves to get caught in their end for minutes at a time.
  • Not sure where Kuemper got injured in this one. Perhaps it was an existing injury that flared up and he felt more comfortable leaving the game when Colorado opened up a bigger lead? Your guess is as good as mine.
  • Mike Smith wasn’t great...six goals against will make that a given. Yet, I don’t put as much fault on him as I usually would in this circumstance. The team in front of him did not do near enough to stop the Avs from getting top-notch chances every other shift. Let’s hope he rebounds like he has in Game 2 of the previous rounds.
  • I also wouldn’t be opposed to giving Koskinen a game. He looked comfortable in the net and made a few key saves as the Oilers mounted their comeback effort.
  • Speaking of which I thought Edmonton really started to come on in the latter part of the game. They should hang their heads high for pushing that hard back against the Avs. One can only hope they keep the chip on their shoulder and push on in Game Two.
  • It might be time to shut down Darnell Nurse for a bit. He looks very injured and the Avs made him look abysmal tonight. I’d rather have a healthy Philip Broberg than Nurse at 10%.
  • A positive from tonight is Edmonton’s depth scoring woke up tonight. McLeod, Ryan, and Nugent-Hopkins all got on the board. Hopefully, it keeps up as the series progresses.
  • Oilers lose Game One but that didn’t stop them from winning rounds one and two. They’ll look to knot things up in Game Two on Thursday night.