Colorado suffered a 3-1 loss to Seattle in Game 1 of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Tuesday night at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado.
The Colorado Avalanche fell 3-1 to the Seattle Kraken in Game 1 of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Tuesday night at Ball Arena as the Avalanche look to defend the Stanley Cup. It was the Kraken’s first playoff win in franchise history.
For the Avalanche, Mikko Rantanen scored. In net, Alexandar Georgiev turned aside 27 of the 30 shots he faced.
For the Kraken, Eeli Tolvanen, Alex Wennberg and Morgan Geekie scored. In between the pipes, former Avalanche netminder Philipp Grubauer made 34 saves on 35 shots.
For the defending Stanley Cup champions in the Avalanche, the goal remains the same, another Stanley Cup.
After facing adversity all season long and showing resilience in the wake of clinching the Central Division for the third-straight year, Game 1 featured the team’s healthiest lineup to date, where all of Colorado’s defensemen were available.
But for Colorado, the team fell flat in Game 1 against a young and hungry Seattle team. And while it wasn’t a poor performance from the Avalanche, it wasn’t the team’s best either. Colorado made costly mistakes as they were bothered by Seattle’s relentless forecheck and didn’t match the level of play, especially on the wall where the Kraken held the edge in battles. The chances the Avalanche did generate were often blocked, as Seattle had 23 blocked shots, or they missed the net by thin margins.
“I didn’t like our execution in a lot of areas,” Avalanche Head Coach Jared Bednar said. “I’m not just putting it on our attack, but if you look at the goals, we gave them turnovers that were gifts – granted, they’re coming hard – but we didn’t handle the pressure on those two occasions. And other occasions. I didn’t think our whole team just wasn’t quite good enough,” Bednar continued. “I thought we did some good things, they obviously did more good things.” Credit to Sasha Kandrach / ColoradoAvalanche.com
Colorado skated out to a slow start as they faced Seattle’s smothering checking and eager energy but were able to regroup and tie the score at 1 heading into the first intermission and after killing off two penalties in the first period.
The flat play from the Avalanche cost them as the Kraken drew the first strike of the series just 3:26 into play as they capitalized on a turnover. Georgiev left the puck behind the cage for Devon Toews, who picked it up and – with two Seattle forwards forechecking, tried to send a pass up ice, but the pass was intercepted in the slot by Tolvanen. Georgiev blocked the winger’s first shot attempt, but Tolvanen buried the rebound to give Seattle a 1-0 lead.
The Kraken continued to press Georgiev. He came up with a fantastic windmill glove save on a Jordan Eberle wrist shot. After killing off the first of two penalties – both taken by Josh Manson, the Avalanche began to pick up their game and soon came up with an equalizer.
After winning an offensive zone faceoff, Bowen Byram dropped the puck back to Nathan MacKinnon at the left faceoff circle. The center “Big Mac” spun past a Kraken skater and then snapped a cross-ice pass to Rantanen at the backdoor, who redirected the shot into the net.
Colorado finished the opening frame with a clutch penalty kill as Manson took his second penalty for holding.
Seattle quickly regained the lead just a few minutes into the second period. Jaden Schwartz picked up a pass from Jamie Oleksiak and sent a cross-ice feed to Wennberg. From just inside the right faceoff circle, Wennberg released a quick wrist shot past Georgiev’s glove side to give Seattle a 2-1 lead.
For the remainder of the period, the Avalanche and Kraken exchanged chances. Colorado held a 13-12 shot advantage, but the Avalanche were unable to solve Grubauer and even went 0-for-2 on the power play.
The Kraken then extended their lead up to 3-1 at 4:03 in the third period. After entering the offensive zone, Justin Schultz fired the puck behind the net. As Josh Manson tried to corral it, Wennberg beat him to it and centered the puck into the slot. Morgan Geekie buried the one-timer under the crossbar and past Georgiev.
Colorado continued to put pressure on Seattle and showed desperation after falling 3-1; the Avs outshot the Kraken 13-5. The chances came to a halt late in the third period, and the Avalanche were sent to the penalty kill as Artturi Lehkonen was whistled for slashing. The Avalanche killed the penalty off but couldn’t get back on track to alter the score. The Avalanche played with six skaters for almost 4 minutes at the end of the third as they pulled the goalie for an extra attacker.
The First Round series between Colorado and Seattle continues in Denver with Game 2 on Thursday night. The puck drops between the Avalanche and Kraken at 7:30 p.m. MT.