The Colorado Avalanche heads to Southern Nevada in a battle to keep its season alive when facing the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 6 at T-Mobile Arena on Thursday. Colorado fell 3-2 in overtime at home on Tuesday and is now behind 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.
Brandon Saad scored his seventh goal of the playoffs, while Joonas Donskoi also found the back of the net for the Avs. Alex Newhook registered his first career NHL assist in the postseason, as Mikko Rantanen and Patrik Nemeth--his first point of the playoffs--each added a helper. For the Golden Knights, Mark Stone tallied the game-winning goal in overtime, with Alex Tuch and Jonathan Marchessault both lighting the lamp as well.
The Avalanche controlled the play throughout much of the contest and held a 30-25 advantage in the shot department but gave up a 2-0 lead in the third period as Vegas scored three straight to secure the win.
Colorado will need to win on Thursday to force a Game 7 that would take place on Saturday at Ball Arena if necessary. It is the first elimination game for the club this postseason.
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.
The Avalanche owns an all-time 2-3-1 postseason record against the Golden Knights after losing three consecutive games to find themselves down 3-2 in the second-round bout. While the Avs are facing an elimination game, the squad can take positives from Game 5 and use that momentum in Game 6. Colorado outshot Vegas for the first time since Game 1 and held Vegas to its lowest shot total all series at 25 (tied). The club can also take its heavy game that was seen on Tuesday into T-Mobile Arena on Thursday, as the Avs threw 41 hits compared to Vegas' 31, with Gabriel Landeskog (eight) and Logan O'Connor (seven) setting the tone with their physical play.
Cale Makar's six points (one goal, five assists) lead the roster in scoring against the Knights, while Mikko Rantanen's five points rank second (three goals, two assists). Nathan MacKinnon (two goals, two assists), Landeskog (two goals, two assists) and Brandon Saad (four goals) are tied for third on the club, with Saad tallying a goal in two straight meetings and in four of five versus Vegas.
Colorado shuffled its lines in Game 5 and is likely to use the same lineup in Game 6. The first line was compiled of Brandon Saad on the left wing of Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, while Gabriel Landeskog shifted down to the second line on the left side of J.T. Compher and Valeri Nichushkin. Logan O'Connor made his 2021 postseason debut on Tuesday and skated alongside Tyson Jost and Andre Burakovsky on the third line, as the fourth trio featured Alex Newhook--who was reinserted into the lineup after being scratched in Games 3 and 4--Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Joonas Donskoi. The defensive pairings were left the same from the previous four games in the series.
- 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 timetable for his return yet
SCOUTING THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS
Vegas has been able to capitalize on its opportunities throughout the series and followed the same path in Game 5, as the club scored each of its three goals off of turnovers by the Avalanche. Jonathan Marchessault has lead the charge for the Golden Knights, scoring five goals over the last three games--including the game-tying marker in Game 5--and has registered at least a point in all five matchups in the set.
As the home team, Vegas sports a 20-10 all-time record in the playoffs, with a 6-4 mark in its last 10 after winning both Games 3 and 4 against the Avs at T-Mobile Arena. Netminder Marc-Andre Fleury owns a 4-2 record, 1.66 goals-against average and .926 save percentage on home ice this postseason.
(AVS) PLAYER TO WATCH: NATHAN MACKINNON
Nathan MacKinnon has been one of the best players in the NHL throughout the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, tallying eight goals and five assists. His 13 points are tied for third in the league, and his eight goals are the most in the NHL (tied). While MacKinnon has been dominant, he has been stifled by the Golden Knights for the most part in the second-round series. The forward recorded at least a point in each of the first two games (two goals, two assists), but has yet to find the scoresheet over the last three contests.
All time, the 25-year-old is fifth on Colorado's franchise scoring list with 67 points (28 goals, 39 assists) in 49 games. His 22 power-play points (seven goals, 22 assists) rank tied for seventh and his 1.37 points per game is the best.
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: MARK STONE
The captain of the Golden Knights has led by example throughout the postseason and produced in big moments for the club. Possibly his biggest moment came in Game 5 as Stone capitalized on an Avalanche turnover in overtime, firing a wrister over the glove hand of Grubauer on a breakaway to finish off the contest 50 seconds into the extra frame. The forward has collected a goal and two assists versus Colorado, with those points being notched in each of the last three contests. Overall, Stone has registered five goals and three assists in 12 games this playoffs, ranking tied for second in points (eight) and second in goals on the Vegas roster.
The Winnipeg, Manitoba, native has compiled 23 goals and 27 assists in 66 career playoff games with the Golden Knights and Ottawa Senators. With Vegas, Stone has notched 37 points (18 goals, 19 assists) in 39 postseason matchups. His 0.95 points per game average is the best in franchise playoff history, while he ranks third in goals and fifth in both assists and points.
Despite losing three consecutive games to the Golden Knights, the squad has not fallen in four straight contests all season. The last time the Avs were defeated in three straight was from April 24-28 and the team bounced back to win three straight and eight of its next nine matchups.
Colorado has had to force a Game 7 in each of the last two postseasons and has been successful in both situations. In 2020, the Avs were down 3-1 to the Dallas Starts in the second round and won both Games 5 and 6 to take the series the distance. The previous year, the club trailed 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks in Round 2 and earned a 4-3 victory in overtime in Game 6 to force a Game 7.
Mikko Rantanen (51) is one point away from tying Anton Stastny (52) for the 11th most points in franchise history and two points from taking sole possession of 11th. The forward has recorded at least a point in eight of his nine games in the playoffs, tallying four goals and eight assists.
Colorado owns a 12-11 mark in Game 6s since moving to Denver in 1995-96, with a 2-0 record in its last two opportunities in 2019 and 2020… The Avs have scored 35 goals throughout the postseason, the third most in the league. The clubs 3.89 goals per game average is the best in the NHL… The Avalanche is the only team in the league to have both of its special team units rank in the top five in the postseason, as its power-play (39.3) is second and its penalty kill (81.0) is fifth in the NHL… On Wednesday, Cale Makar was nominated as a finalist for the James Norris Memorial Trophy as one of the top three defensive players who demonstrated the greatest all-round ability in the position throughout the season. He became fourth player in team history (since 1995-96) to be named a finalist for the trophy… Mikko Rantanen (eight), Gabriel Landeskog (eight) and Cale Makar (seven) all rank in the top 10 in the league in assists this postseason. Rantanen and Landeskog are tied for fifth, while Makar is tied for 10th… Colorado has received offensive production from 20 different players on the roster, the second most in the NHL.