SEATTLE — Following Saturday’s 6-4 victory in Game 3, the Avalanche continued to be complimentary of their first-round opponent. Over the past two years, Colorado has breezed through the first round, sweeping both the 2021 St. Louis Blues and last year’s Nashville Predators.

And in the two previous seasons, it took just five games to get through to the second round. While that could be the case once again — Colorado currently holds a 2-1 series lead heading into a pivotal Game 4 on Monday — it’s all respect from the Avs to the second-year expansion Seattle Kraken.

“This is definitely the hardest first round I’ve been in,” superstar forward Nathan MacKinnon said, “The last few years we’ve been the top seed and we’ve not gotten easy teams by any means but this Seattle team is a 100-point team and they’re really good and we’re gonna have to continue to do our best to beat them.”

MacKinnon was at his best Saturday, scoring two goals, including a highlight reel game-winner in the third period. He continued to play on a line with Evan Rodrigues and Artturi Lehkonen, a line coach Jared Bednar formulated following a disappointing Game 1 loss at Ball Arena.

“They’re a good team. That’s why it’s been one of the most difficult ones we’ve had,” Bednar said. “I think they’re a really good hockey team. They’re a deep hockey team. And they work extremely hard. They’ve bought into their system and their game plan and they compete within that plan. So it makes it difficult.”

Valeri Nichushkin

No further updates were provided Sunday about Nichushkin’s situation. The forward was expected to dress in Game 3 but hours before puck drop, he was taken to the airport and left the team for personal reasons. A team spokesperson later confirmed to Mile High Sports that his absence is not injury-related or disciplinary. It is unclear at this time when he will return.


Colorado has scored several goals right off of a faceoff in this series. It happened again on Saturday when superstar defenseman Cale Makar fired a shot past Philipp Grubauer after a clean faceoff win for Avs center Alex Newhook.

The Avs were ranked 28th in the regular season with a 46.7 percent success rate in draws. Seattle was 31st at 45.3 percent. In the postseason, only the Dallas Stars are better than Colorado’s 56.4 percent.

Injury updates

Bednar said Sunday that center Darren Helm is considered day-to-day. Helm dressed in Game 2 but missed both the first and third games of the series. Helm skated with several teammates at Climate Pledge Arena during Sunday’s off day. Among those on the ice was defenseman Jack Johnson.

After playing 83 regular-season games between Colorado and Chicago, the elder Johnson on the Avs has missed each of the first three games of this series. Johnson was supposed to play in Game 1 last week. He was part of the pre-game line rushes before being a late scratch and replaced by veteran Erik Johnson.