The worry that the Colorado Avalanche weren’t in playoff form when they limped to a 1-5-1 finish to the regular season was wiped away early on in Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series against Nashville.
Colorado scored twice in the first 2:42 Tuesday night and led the Predators 5-0 with nearly five minutes left in the first period. Nashville never made it a game, losing 7-2, and heads into Thursday’s Game 2 down 1-0 in the series.
“We’ve always bounced back this year. So, we’re going to need to do that Thursday,” said Matt Duchene, who scored both Predators goals in Game 1. “That’s a team over there that wants to win the Stanley Cup and believes they can. We have to stand in there a lot better. They got a lot of talent. Great, great team. We got to be a lot better and push back a lot better.”
Nashville beat the Avalanche in Denver five days before Game 1 but didn’t look like the same team once the puck dropped Tuesday night. Goaltender David Rittich didn’t make it out of the first period, underscoring the importance of the injured Juuse Saros.
Saros has been ruled out for Thursday night with a right ankle sprain so it will either be Rittich getting another shot or Connor Ingram, who had 30 saves after he came into the game.
Coach John Hynes said Wednesday he has made a decision on who will start but said he will “sleep on it” and finalize his choice Thursday morning. The decision was made tougher with Ingram’s solid play in relief of Rittich.
“I thought Connor looked good. He came in, he looked calm, he looked poised, he made some good saves,” Hynes said Tuesday night.
Colorado didn’t escape Game 1 unscathed.
Forward Andrew Cogliano, who scored a short-handed goal to put the Avalanche ahead 3-0, left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury. Coach Jared Bednar said Wednesday Cogliano is day-to-day.
Colorado has plenty of options to use if Cogliano is out. Logan O’Connor, Kurtis MacDermid and Alex Newhook were healthy scratches for Game 1 but all have been big contributors this season.
MacDermid might get the nod to add an enforcer to the lineup. Nashville is a physical team that takes plenty of penalties. The Predators had an NHL-most 1,035 penalty minutes this season.
Things got chippy at the end of the second period and at times in the third period, especially late when a few scrums formed after the whistle.
The Avalanche didn’t get drawn in too much; things got physical with defenseman Cale Makar and Ryan Johansen but Makar didn’t take the bait on the Nashville center’s attempt to fight.
“No team wants to get blown out, whether it’s at home or on the road, and if you don’t get the results, if it’s not going your way, then you try to impact the game in a different way,” said Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog, who had a goal and an assist in his first game since March 10.
“That’s just the way it is.”
–Field Level Media