The Colorado Avalanche dropped a 3-2 loss to the Seattle Kraken in Game 5 of the First Round series on Wednesday night in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Do or die on Friday night at Climate Pledge Arena.
On Wednesday night at Ball Arena, the Colorado Avalanche dropped a 3-2 loss to the Seattle Kraken in Game 5 of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Seattle leads the best-of-seven series 3-2.
For the Avalanche, Nathan MacKinnon and Evan Rodrigues scored. Jack Johnson made his postseason debut after missing the previous four games with a lower-body injury. In net, Alexandar Georgiev turned aside 26 of the 29 shots he faced.
For the Kraken, Morgan Geekie, Tye Kartye found the back of the net in his NHL Debut. In between the pipes, former Avalanche netminder Philipp Grubauer made 26 saves on 28 shots.
With the series tied 2-2, Game 5 was the first of a best-of-three scenario. The stakes were already high for the Avalanche, but it didn’t help that the group was without Cale Makar, who served his one-game suspension from a hit against Jared McCann in Game 4 and had totaled three points in the series.
And while Makar’s absence, in joining Valeri Nichushkin, and Darren Helm, from the lineup wasn’t an excuse, it contributed to the challenge of Game 5.
Coming into Game 5, the Avalanche stressed the importance of receiving secondary scoring from forwards outside of their top six (who had produced the entirety of the goals in the series aside from Makar and Devon Toews. And while Colorado executed a solid effort in Game 5 and generated some good looks, the team was still somewhat disjointed and unable to execute the way the Kraken did. Thus, they found themselves trailing the series 3-2, heading back to Game 6 in Seattle on Friday night.
“The Kraken are checking, they’re doing exactly what we thought it’d be; checking hard, getting back above pucks, taking away time and space,” Avalanche Head Coach Jared Bednar said. “And we seem to be getting frustrated like we’re not expecting it. We have to get better support on the puck in all three zones. You’re going to have scrums that you get into where you come out with the puck and some that you don’t. Our D-zone coverage it’s the same thing. But right now, they just look like the quicker team. They’re winning every race, they come out with pucks out of every scrum, we’re not coming up with enough of them. I felt like their support was slow today.”
Quote Credit: Sasha Kandrach / ColoradoAvalanche.com
Colorado and Seattle skated out to a 0-0 first period, where the Kraken held a 15-8 advantage in shots. Georgiev was dialed in right from puck drop, where he gloved a Vince Dunn shot just under three minutes into the period. The Avalanche killed off a J. Johnson penalty at 10:42 and received their first power play with 57 seconds left in the opening frame as Artturi Lehkonen was tripped.
Following the 0-0 first period, things opened up in the second period, where Seattle took a 2-1 lead – as they scored the first goal of the game for the fifth straight time this series, heading into the final 20 minutes of play.
After killing off a penalty early on, the Kraken capitalized at 6:35 as they crashed the crease. Jade Schwartz fired a shot from the left faceoff circle into Georgiev’s chest, but the netminder could not control the rebound. Geekie crashed the paint and tapped the loose pack past Gerogiev for the game’s opener.
The Avalanche pushed and came up with an equalizer just a minute and a half after the Kraken Goal. Devon Toews sent a cross-ice pass into the left corner of the Avalanche offensive zone. Grubauer abandoned his crease to try and throw the puck back up ice, but Rantanen read the play and instead fired the puck off the wall from the right faceoff circle on net. As Grubauer was late to return to his crease and missed his attempt at gloving the puck, MacKinnon crashed the net, and Rantanen’s shot deflected off his skate past the goal line for the 1-1 equalizer at 7:55.
Seattle regained their lead at 9:59 on a quick transition strike of their own. In Colorado’s offensive zone, MacKinnon was blatantly tripped by Will Borgen. While no call was made, the Kraken carried the puck up ice. Game 4’s overtime hero, Jordan Eberle, took the puck behind the net and curled it back around before centering it to the low slot for Kartye, who snapped the one-timer past Georgiev for his first NHL goal in his NHL debut.
Colorado received a power play at 18:50 as Tolvanen slashed MacKinnon’s stick out of his hands. The Avalanche failed to convert on the power play, and early in the third period, Seattle lit the lamp to extend their lead 3-1.
Carson Soucy skated along the blue line and snapped a point shot on net. Gourde tipped Soucy’s shot for the redirect to beat Georgiev at 1:40.
Down 3-1 late in the third period, Colorado pulled Georgiev in exchange for the extra skater. It managed to make it a one-goal game at 16:23. Shortly after, the Avalanche cycled the puck around the zone, and Devon Toews fed Rodrigues at the blue line. The winger fired a point shot that took two redirections first, off the stick of Seattle forward Alex Wennberg and then off Seattle defenseman Jamie Oleksiak and trickled past Grubauer to make it a 3-2 game with less than four minutes left.
And while the Avalanche pushed late in the game to try and tie the score up and force overtime, it was too little too late.
“We’re frustrated right now that we’d let an opportunity slip away at home,” Bednar said. “To me, it wasn’t anywhere near the game we have to play in order to have success. It’s not the game we played all year long. We’ll have to reset and get there. Right now, in this series, I’d say confidence is low, and we’ve got to find a way to get it back and build it back. It starts with [our] attitude going into the game and our mindset going into the game. We have to build [our] confidence back as the game goes on.
“There’s nothing to lose now, right?” Bednar continued. “If you don’t win, you go home. It’s a mental thing. It’s not just the team. It’s each individual needs to get his mind in the right place in order to be able to play this game the right way.”
Quote Credit: Sasha Kandrach / ColoradoAvalanche.com
The First Round series between Avalanche and Kraken returns to Seattle with Game 6 on Friday night. The time for puck drop is scheduled for 8 p.m. MT.