Colorado suffered a 3-2 overtime loss to Seattle in Game 4 of the First Round series on Monday night in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
We are heading back to Denver.
The Colorado Avalanche dropped a 3-2 overtime loss to the Seattle Kraken in Game 4 of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Monday night at Climate Pledge Arena. The best-of-seven series is now tied 2-2.
Mikko Rantanen scored twice in the loss for the Avalanche, marking his second-consecutive two-goal performance. In net, Alexandar Georgiev turned aside 40 of the 43 shots he faced.
Jordan Eberle buried the overtime winner on the power play for the Kraken, while Will Borgen and Daniel Sprong also scored. In between the pipes, former Avalanche netminder Philipp Grubauer made 20 saves on 22 shots.
Following a high-flying, relatively wide-open Game 3, Monday’s Game 4 contest featured much more intense, physical play. The physicality was established early on and remained a constant throughout the game, as a combined total of 87 hits were thrown in regulation.
“We didn’t get to our game early enough, that’s the biggest takeaway from me,” Avalanche Head Coach Jared Bednar said. “We knew it was going to get tougher and tougher as the series went on. Space is going to be less available, and you’ll have to earn every inch of ice. We didn’t do a good enough job early in taking care of our side in that scenario.”
Quote Credit: Sasha Kandrach / ColoradoAvalanche.com
Another point of interest that tightened up from Game 3 to Game 4 was how the Kraken emphasized defending Colorado’s stars in, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Cale Makar, who all had extraordinary efforts in the Avalanche’s 6-4 victory. Through 60 minutes, MacKinnon was held without a shot, a significant rarity in an attempt to limit Colorado’s offense.
“I thought we pushed back and played physical within the game,” Bednar said. “I thought we competed hard in a lot of different areas, especially as the game went on. It just goes back to the early part of the game for me. Too many races lost, too many battles lost. They were amped up, ready to go in, and handle their pressure very well. And as the game goes on, we started handling it better, and it becomes much more even hockey.”
Quote Credit: Sasha Kandrach / ColoradoAvalanche.com
The first period was anything but dull, as tensions escalated in what unfolded to be an eventful and physical opening 20 minutes of play where there was a combined total of 28 hits. Seattle took a 2-0 lead with an early strike (again) and a power-play goal.
The Kraken put the Avalanche on their heels early as Georgiev had to make a sequence of saves right off the bat, including two stops on Oliver Bjorkstrand and a kick save on Jared McCann.
Colorado killed off two penalties early on, but in between the two kills, Seattle drew the game’s first strike for the fourth-straight time in this series.
Adam Larsson sent a pass to Borgen, where he unleashed a one-timer from inside the left faceoff circle past Georgiev at 3:56.
The game took a raucous turn just under the midway mark. Yanni Gourde was sent to the box for roughing on Bowen Byram at 7:23. Colorado’s power play relinquished a shorthanded chance as Jared McCann was sprung on a breakaway, but his shot was denied by a shoulder save from Georgiev. As McCann and Makar circled along the boards, Makar laid a hit on McCann and was sent to the box for interference at 8:24 with a Major penalty, which was lowered to a minor. However, the league took a second look, and Makar will not play in game 5. This resulted in the crowd at Climate Pledge Arena continuously booing Makar every time he touched the puck for the rest of the game.
After the Kraken killed off the remainder of Gourde’s penalty, they then capitalized on the power play to up their lead to 2-0. Sprong collected a pass from Justin Schultz, skated into the high slot, and sniped a shot to the far side of Georgiev’s glove, which hit off the post and went into the net.
The Avalanche finished the off period down two goals and were outshot 18-8. The team did show some widespread feistiness as the clock wound down as Artturi Lehkonen and Vince Dunn shared some exchanges, and Josh Manson tangled up with Gourde in front of the benches.
After the dramatic first period, the second period was relatively uneventful and featured stingy play, but even so, Colorado managed to even the score 2-2.
The Avalanche started the period off on another penalty kill as Lehkonen and Logan O’Connor were called for roughing, and Seattle’s Vince Dunn was also called for roughing for the exchanges that concluded the second period.
And after another big kill, the remainder of the period, the Avalanche’s offense was stifled as the Kraken clogged up all shooting lanes and blocked 11 shots in the period.
Despite not getting shots through, Colorado made it a 2-1 game late in the period on their third shot of the frame. After Georgiev denied a sharp-angle shot from Jaden Schwartz, the Avalanche countered on a quick transition play and a nice passing sequence. Evan Rodrigues sent a pass upon entering the offensive zone to Nathan MacKinnon. The center sent a backhanded pass back across the slot to Rantanen. The winger took a wrist shot from between the circles between Grubauer’s pads at 14:07.
In the winding few minutes of the period, Rantanen drew a holding penalty on Borgen at 17:13, and Colorado’s power play notched its first goal of the series. J.T. Compher sent a pass to Samuel Girard at the point, who fed it down into the right faceoff circle to Rantanen. He sidestepped and then snuck a shot past Rodrigues’ screen for the 2-2 equalizer at 19:10.
With the score locked 2-2 in the third period, both teams tightened up their defensive details and were more disciplined than what had transpired previously, but neither team was able to break through, and thus, the game was sent to overtime.
Colorado received a power play at 7:27 but did not convert. The Kraken – who held a 9-7 shot edge in the frame – generated a solid chance with just under five minutes remaining, but Georgiev made a glove save on Alex Wennberg’s wrist shot.
The Avalanche produced some threatening looks early in overtime, but a turnover resulted in the Kraken countering and Schwartz jetting towards the Avalanche net on a near breakaway attempt. As he neared the net, Josh Manson dove and tripped the Kraken forward to prevent him from getting a shot off.
Manson was sent to the box at 1:59 for tripping. On Seattle’s power play, Evan Rodrigues blocked a Daniel Sprong shot, but it spat out to the low slot. Eberle centered it to Schwartz, who fired a one-timer, and Georgiev made the pad save, but the rebound kicked back out to Eberle’s stick, and the Seattle winger roofed the puck over Georgiev’s shoulder to seal the 3-2 victory.
The First Round series between Colorado and Seattle returns to Denver with Game 5 on Wednesday night, and the time is TBD.