Colorado Avalanche Force Game 7 with Character 4-1 Win over Seattle Kraken
Colorado forced a Game 7 after topping Seattle 4-1 in Game 6 of the First Round series on Friday night in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
There will be a Game 7.
After facing elimination, the Colorado Avalanche persevered and rose to the occasion with a 4-1 statement and identity win over the Seattle Kraken in Game 6 of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Friday night at Climate Pledge Arena. The best-of-seven series is now tied 3-3 and slated to return to Denver on Sunday night to determine who will advance to the Second Round.
Artturi Lehkonen scored twice for the Avalanche, while Mikko Rantanen and Erik Johnson also found the back of the net. Devon Toews handed out two assists. Cale Makar returned to the lineup after serving his suspension from a hit he laid in Game 4 and dished out two assists. In net, Alexandar Georgiev turned aside 22 of the 23 shots he faced.
For the Kraken, Vince Dunn netted the lone goal. Between the pipes, former Avalanche netminder Philipp Grubauer made 35 saves on 38 shots in the loss.
Not done yet.
Despite being pushed to the brink of elimination and facing relentless adversity, Colorado rose to the occasion and seized the moment with a statement 4-1 win over Seattle to tie the series up 3-3 and force a Game 7 back on home ice on Sunday night.
After dropping a heartbreaking 3-2 overtime loss in Game 4 and an uncharacteristic 3-2 loss in Game 5, the Avalanche regrouped and returned to Seattle in Game 6 with a detailed and determined effort. Colorado got back to their identity with their dominant play from the drop of the puck – and while they didn’t convert on the power play (0-for-5) – they were dangerous and dynamic shift after shift.
“We knew we hadn’t been nearly our best the entire series,” E. Johnson said. “They played well, but we haven’t been close to our game. That was probably our best one of the series so far. I loved our start. Like anything, success is never achieved easily. There’s always adversity. No matter what you do in life, success will never be easy. No one said it would be easy, and we didn’t expect the series to be easy. To get where you want to go – which is to win the [Stanley] Cup again – there’s always adversity. That’s just life. You battle through adversity to reach your goals, and it’s not always easy, and it usually never is.”
Quote Credit: Sasha Kandrach / ColoradoAvalanche.com
With their season on the line, the Avalanche came out with a strong effort from the drop of the puck as they were skating all over the ice and winning individual battles. The first period featured end-to-end action as both teams executed a high-flying tempo of play. Neither converted on their individual power play attempts in the period, and the wrapped up tied at 1-1, with the Avalanche holding a 13-10 shot advantage.
Despite not scoring on a power play at 8:02 – as Dunn was finally whistled for interference at the net front on Lehkonen – Colorado seemingly scored the first goal of the game at 14:31 with a snipe off the rush from Bowen Byram.
The Kraken immediately challenged the goal for offsides, and upon review, it was confirmed Evan Rodrigues was offsides when entering the offensive zone, and the goal was overturned.
Seattle took advantage of the deflating news for the Avalanche as they capitalized on a turnover in Colorado’s own zone. After failing to clear their zone, Johnson sent a puck from the slot into the boards. Dunn anticipated the play and blasted a one-timer off the boards past Georgiev for the game’s icebreaker at 15:48, which marked the sixth-straight game that the Avalanche have relinquished the opening goal.
Shortly after, at 17:00, Colorado went on its first penalty kill, but the PK came up with a clutch result to stifle Seattle’s power play, which poised the Avalanche to tie the score up 1-1 with 20 seconds left in the opening frame, for the first of four-straight unanswered goals from the determined group.
From the left faceoff circle, Nathan MacKinnon sent a pass to the point for Toews. The blueliner unleashed a one-timer at Grubauer, who stopped the puck with his glove but was unable to control it. At the net front, Rodrigues swatted the puck to the doorstep, where Rantanen put away the rebound at 19:40 for the 1-1 equalizer.
With the score gridlocked at 1-1, it was only fitting the intensity only continued to escalate in the second period. And while it was a chippy second period, the Avalanche continued to press and smother Seattle as they outshot them 14-4 and furthered their lead 3-1 despite failing to convert on the three power plays they received in the period.
Colorado didn’t capitalize on Matty Berniers’ tripping penalty on J.T. Compher at 1:47 – although Rantanen struck the crossbar, the Avalanche didn’t let up once the Kraken returned to full strength. Their tenacious forecheck went to work as Lehkonen and Rantanen retrieved the puck, and Rantanen threaded a pass out to between the circles where E. Johnson – who did not score a goal in the regular season – wired a low wrist shot past Grubauer’s left pad to give Colorado a 2-1 lead.
Tensions boiled over at the midway mark as Tye Kartye was sent to the box for interference on Andrew Cogliano. An exchange on Colorado’s power play resulted in a scrap between Rantanen, who each went to the box for roughing, and Lehkonen was also sent for slashing Grubauer. After the 50 seconds of 4-on-4 was killed, the Avalanche went on to come up with another vital penalty kill.
The Avalanche pushed and pushed. Despite Grubauer denying a two-on-one rush with MacKinnon and Rantanen, the Avalanche broke through once more at 16:57. Cale Makar – who was continuously booed by the fans in attendance – sent a lateral pass to his d-partner in Toews. From that point, Toews unleashed a one-timer, and at the net front, Lehkonen redirected the shot past Grubauer to give Colorado a 3-1 lead.
The game’s intensity, unfortunately, took a malicious turn in the final few minutes as Seattle winger Jordan Eberle rammed Cogliano headfirst into the boards along the Kraken’s bench. Eberle was only administered a two-minute minor while Cogliano left for the dressing room but did return for the third period.
Colorado locked it down in the third period. Despite having to kill off an early penalty taken by Alex Newhook just 2:10 into the frame and failing to convert on their fifth power play chance of the game at 15:37, the Avalanche played a stifling, sharp, secure game for the final 20 minutes – as the held the Kraken to just nine shots on net – and added an empty-net goal by Lehkonen to claim the 4-1 victory to force a Game 7 back at Ball Arena on Sunday night.
The First Round series between Avalanche and Kraken returns to Denver with a deciding Game 7 on Sunday night at Ball Arena.