The Colorado Avalanche looks to take a 3-1 series lead when facing off against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 4 of Round 2 on Sunday. The Avs fell for the first time this postseason on Friday, losing 3-2 after giving up two goals in a 45-second span late in the third period.
Mikko Rantanen scored to extend his playoff point streak to 17 games, while Carl Soderberg (one goal) and Kiefer Sherwood (one assist) each registered their first points of the postseason. For the Golden Knights, Max Pacioretty tallied the game-winning goal, with William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault both finding the back of the net as well.
Avalanche netminder Philipp Grubauer stopped 40-of-43 shots on the night, while Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 18 saves on 20 shots.
Following Sunday's matchup, the Avs and Knights will return to Denver for Game 5 on Tuesday and if necessary, the set will shift back to Las Vegas on Thursday for a Game 6 bout.
Avalanche at Vegas Golden Knights
T-Mobile Arena | Las Vegas, Nev.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare played two seasons with Vegas after the team selected him in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft… Golden Knights defenseman Nick Holden played three seasons with Colorado from 2013-2016.
Through the first three games in the second-round series, the Avs have outscored the Golden Knights 12-6, averaging 4.00 goals per game and allowing just 2.00 goals against per contest. The squad has seen 15 different players find the scoresheet in the series, while Vegas has had 10 skaters record at least a point thus far. Cale Makar (one goal, five assists) Nathan MacKinnon (two goals, two assists), Gabriel Landeskog (two goals, two assists) and Mikko Rantanen (three goals, one assist) have provided the offensive firepower for the Avalanche, as Makar and Rantanen have collected at least a point in each contest so far in the series.
Colorado owns an all-time 2-1-1mark versus Vegas in the postseason and is looking for its first playoff win at T-Mobile Arena in franchise history. The Avs hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, as the club won Games 1 and 2 at Ball Arena by scores of 7-1 and 3-2 in overtime, respectively, and were defeated 3-2 on Friday in Vegas.
Logan O'Connor has been participating in team skates but wasn't ready to play in Game 3, according to Jared Bednar. He could make his postseason debut in the coming games after having surgery earlier this year to help repair a lower-body injury he suffered on March 31. Carl Soderberg and Kiefer Sherwood were inserted into the lineup on Friday in place of Sampo Ranta and Alex Newhook. It was Sherwood's first career Stanley Cup Playoff game and Soderberg's debut in the 2021 playoffs.
- Matt Calvert (upper body): Out long term after requiring surgery and is doubtful to return this year
- Pavel Francouz (lower body): Expected to return fully healthy next season after having surgery earlier this year
- Erik Johnson (upper body): Has been skating on his own, but there isn't a timetable for his return yet
- Logan O'Connor (lower body): Could return to game action soon as he skated with the team in Friday's morning skate
SCOUTING THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS
Despite falling 7-1 and getting outshot 37-25 in Game 1, Vegas has followed it up with two strong performances in Games 2 and 3. The squad has put 41-plus shots on net in the past two contests (84-45), outshooting Colorado 41-25 in Game 2 and 43-20 on Friday. In both of those games, the Golden Knights have held the Avs to its lowest shot totals all postseason, but are even on the scoreboard with both clubs scoring five goals apiece.
As the home team, the Knights boast an all-time 19-10 mark in the playoffs and have won two straight matchups, going 3-2 at T-Mobile Arena in the 2021 playoffs. Jonathan Marchessault (one goal, two assists) and Max Pacioretty (one goal, two assists) have led Vegas offensively through the first three meetings in the second-round series.
(AVS) PLAYER TO WATCH: CALE MAKAR
Cale Makar has been a force on the back end throughout the entirety of the postseason and has not let up through the first three games versus the Golden Knights. The young defenseman has notched at least a point in each matchup against Vegas (one goal, five assists), including putting together a career-high, four-point effort (one goal, three assists) in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series), and has recorded a point in four straight games overall. His six points in the set lead the club, while his nine points (two goals, seven assists) in the playoffs are the most by an Avalanche blueliner and rank second in the NHL among defenders.
The 22-year-old is in his third playoff run and has compiled seven tallies and 23 helpers in 32 contests. Makar has averaged 0.94 points per game in his postseason career, the best in franchise history and his 30 points are the fourth-most by an Avalanche/Nordiques blueliner all time.
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: WILLIAM KARLSSON
William Karlsson has been a top offensive producer for Vegas this postseason and has continued that against the Avs in the first three contests. He has scored in two of three matchups with the club and leads the Golden Knights in scoring when facing Colorado with two markers. Overall, the forward has produced three goals and three assists in the playoffs, ranking tied for first in points (six) on the roster and second in goals (tied).
Karlsson has registered 16 goals and 20 assists in 57 playoff games with the Knights, slotting in at fourth on Vegas' all-time postseason scoring list in goals, assists and points (36). The Marsta, Sweden, native is the franchise leader in plus-minus rating in the playoffs (plus-15), while his two game-winning goals are tied for the fifth-most all time.
The Avalanche has tallied a power-play goal in all three matchups with the Golden Knights and in six of its seven postseason contests. Colorado is 11-for-25 (44.0 percent) with the man advantage in the playoffs--the best in the league--and is 5-for-13 (38.5 percent) against Vegas.
The trio of Nathan MacKinnon (eight goals, five assists), Gabriel Landeskog (four goals, eight assists) and Mikko Rantanen are all in the top five spots in the NHL in points per game average this postseason. MacKinnon (1.86) and Landeskog (1.71) take up the top two spots in the NHL, while Rantanen (1.57) ranks fifth.
Colorado is one of three teams remaining in the playoffs to have won 100 percent of its games when scoring the first goal, going a perfect 5-0 this postseason. When facing Vegas, the Avs are 2-0 when finding the back of the net first, while going 0-1 when letting in the first tally.
The Avalanche heads into Game 4 with a 55-48 record on the road in the playoffs since moving to Denver in 1995-96, while holding a 2-1 mark this postseason… Colorado is 14-7 all-time when winning two of the first three games of a best-of-seven playoff series and 13-5 since arriving in Denver… The Avs have killed off 81.3 percent of their penalties this postseason as their man-down unit ranks tied for fourth in the league. The squad's penalty kill has gone 6-for-7 against the Golden Knights for an 85.7 penalty-kill percentage in the series… Carl Soderberg notched his first goal of the 2021 postseason and the third of his career on Friday. At 35 years, 235 days, Soderberg became the oldest player to score a playoff goal for the Avalanche since Joe Sakic (38 years, 282 days) scored in Game 3 of the 2008 Conference Quarterfinals… The Avs forward group has combined for 62 points (29 goals, 33 assists) through seven contests, the third most in the NHL. The skaters have also totaled six game-winning goals, tied for the second most in the league.