Avalanche sweeps Nashville out of the playoffs with third-period rally – The Denver Post
NASHVILLE — The Avalanche never trailed in the first three games of its first-round Western Conference playoff series against Nashville. But after falling behind in the third period here Monday night, the Avs showed they haven’t lost the art of the third-period comeback.
The Avs roared back in Game 4 to defeat the Nashville Predators, 5-3, to sweep the series and advance to the second round for the fourth consecutive year.
It marked the first time Nashville was swept in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Preds have now lost four consecutive years in the first round.
Colorado, which will play the winner of the Minnesota Wild-St. Louis Blues series, earned itself some rest. The Wild and Blues are tied 2-2 with Game 5 of that series on Tuesday.
Valeri Nichushkin gave the Avs a 4-3 lead with 7:58 remaining in the third period. He did the easy part. Star defenseman Cale Makar slipped past a defender against the left wall and delivered a back-door pass to Nischushkin, who one-timed it past rookie goalie Connor Ingram. Nathan MacKinnon scored an empty-net goal with 55.9 seconds left.
Nashville took its first lead of the series at 3:58 of the third period when star winger Filip Forsberg collected his first goal of the postseason to cap a tic-tac-toe play with Mattias Ekholm and Matt Duchene. But Colorado, trailing 3-2, answered five minutes later when defenseman Devon Toews beat goalie Connor Ingram with a wrist shot from the left circle.
The Avs got a solid game from goalie Pavel Francouz, who made his first start in this postseason. He stepped in for Darcy Kuemper, who was poked in the face through his mask and left early in Game 3. Kuemper had too much swelling around his right eye to see the puck, and AHL call-up Justus Annunen served as Francouz’s backup.
Colorado’s first two goals came from winger Andre Burakovsky and then Makar to establish 1-0 and 2-1 leads. Burakovsky’s shot from the left circle sneaked through the net behind Ingram. Replays proved it was a goal after the first stoppage some 45 seconds later. It was Burakovsky’s first point of the series.
Makar scored his fourth goal and eighth point of the playoffs at 13:33 with a wrist shot from inside the blue line. But the Avs again failed to build on the one-goal lead.
Winger Yakov Trenin scored Nashville’s two goals in forging 1-1 and 2-2 ties. The latter came late in the second period on a bad line change by Colorado. Nichushkin failed to get the puck behind the Preds’ defense while the Avs were changing and Nashville came the other way with numbers. Francouz made the first save on Colton Sissons but Trenin picked up the rebound and went bar-down on the goalie.
A poor defensive effort led to Nashville’s first goal that tied it 1-1 with 1:01 remaining in the first period. Avalanche forward Nico Sturm had the puck on his stick in the corner but partly whiffed and Sissons gained possession. Sissons made a short pass to Trenin, who beat Francouz inside the far post.
Footnotes. Besides the goaltending change, the Avs used the same lineup from Games 1 and 2. The scratches were again forwards Alex Newhook and Andrew Cogliano and defensemen Jack Johnson, Kurtis MacDermid and Ryan Murray. … If Kuemper’s swelling decreases, Annunen could be returned to the Colorado Eagles for their AHL second-round series against the Ontario Reign. Game 1 of the five-game series is Wednesday in Loveland. … The Avs will return to Denver on Tuesday.
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