A 44-save performance by goaltender Andrew Hammond helped lead the Colorado Avalanche to a come-from-behind victory over the Nashville Predators on Friday at Bridgestone Arena and force a Game 6 back home on Sunday night.
It will be the third and final outing of the series that will be played at Pepsi Center, where the Avalanche and Predators have each won one game.
The Predators lead 3-2 in the best-of-seven series in the first round of Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Recapping Game 5
With its season on the line, Colorado's third-string goalie turned playoff starter, Andrew Hammond had a career-high 44-save performance, which included stopping 18 shots during a third-period onslaught by the Predators.
After a scoreless first two periods of play, Nashville's Nick Bonino opened the game's scoring on a rebound goal off his skate with 9:42 remaining in the contest. The goal was immediately waved off by the on-ice officials but was reviewed and overturned after it was determined that there was no distinct kicking motion. With less than five minutes to play in regulation, Gabriel Landeskog scored his fourth goal of the postseason, making him the series' goals and points leader (four goals, three assists), converting on a pass from Nathan MacKinnon to knot the game at 1-1. The Avalanche then tallied the go-ahead goal with less than 88 seconds remaining to send the series back to Denver. Sven Andrighetto scored the game-winner, his first-ever postseason marker, as he converted off a rebound from a shot by J.T. Compher during a 2-1 rush.
Colorado was the first team to win a playoff game in regulation where it was losing in the final five minutes of the third period since the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Boston Bruins 3-2 in the series-clinching Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.
What To Watch
Much like its previous matchup, and the rest of the contests in the series, it is another must-win situation for the Avalanche. Counting Game 82 of the regular season against the St. Louis Blues, the Avs are now 2-0 elimination games. Colorado had to defeat the Blues in regulation in the regular-season finale in order to advance to the playoffs. The Avs will get to play in the friendly confines of Pepsi Center for this outing, where it has a 29-12-2 combined record in the regular season and playoffs this year.
Let's Get Physical
In the series thus far, Colorado and Nashville have combined for 278 total hits, with the Predators owning a slight 144-134 advantage. The series' two most physical contests both came in Denver in Games 3 (70 total hits) and 4 (66 total hits). Interestingly enough, the two clubs were in the bottom-third of the NHL in hits per game during the regular season with Nashville ranking 22nd (20.2) and Colorado ranking 25th (19.9). Both clubs have seen an increase in hits during the playoffs, with Colorado jumping to 26.8 hits per game and Nashville increasing to 28.8.
Both Nashville and Colorado have gotten their fair share of power-play opportunities in the series. The Avs have been given 20 power-play chances, tied for the third-most among the 16-team postseason pool. The Avalanche has cashed in on two of those opportunities, while Nashville has netted on three of its 16 chances thus far. During the regular season, both Nashville (sixth) and Colorado (fourth) were in the top 10 in penalty killing and top 12 on the power play, with the Avalanche (eighth) having the slightly better unit over the Preds (12th) during the man advantage.
Players To Watch
Colorado: Goaltender Andrew Hammond
Andrew Hammond will make his second-straight start and look to build on the momentum of his Game 5 performance as the team heads back to Denver for Game 6. Hammond was forced into the net at the start of the third period in Game 4 after Jonathan Bernier left with a lower-body injury, and he went on to stop all eight shots he faced to close out that game. The netminder's 44 saves in Game 5 were the post in his career (regular season or playoffs) and helped extend the series to a sixth game.
Nashville: Right Wing Ryan Hartman
After serving a one-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Colorado's Carl Soderberg in Game 4, Nashville forward Ryan Hartman is expected to return to the team on Sunday. The big-splash acquisition of the Predators at the Feb. 26 trade deadline, Hartman tallied his first playoff point of his eight-game postseason career during Game 2 in Nashville, scoring the game-winning goal in the Preds' 5-4 victory. The young winger tallied six points (three goals, three assists) in 21 regular-season games with the Predators and 31 points (11 goals, 20 assists) in 78 total games split between the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville this year.
Friday night's Game 6 matchup between Colorado and Nashville begins at 5 p.m. MT. The game can be watched live locally on Altitude or nationally in the U.S. on NBCSN. The radio broadcast will be on Altitude Sports Radio AM 950 and online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.
Doors to Pepsi Center open at 3:30 p.m.