All it took was four games.
Colorado used a third-period rally on Monday, scoring the last three goals to defeat the Nashville Predators 5-3, completing a first-round series sweep. The Avs are the only team in the NHL to go 4-0 and the first to capture a spot in the second round.
It’s also the fourth straight season Colorado has ended its first round on the first chance it had.
“Anytime you get a chance to end a team’s season you take it and run,” Makar said.
Makar was exceptional in leading the way. Not only did he score what could only be described as a nearly-perfect release to make it 2-1, but he also was the catalyst for the game-winning goal. Makar shook off the defenseman along the half walls and sent a pass across to Valeri Nichushkin on the other wing for the one-timer.
The tally gave the Avalanche a lead with just 7:58 remaining in regulation.
“This was our toughest game for sure,” head coach Jared Bednar said. We made a few mistakes that they capitalized on but, again, good resilience from our group.”
Makar led the Avs with 10 points in the first round. He’s the only defenseman in NHL history to reach double-digit point totals through his four playoff games of any given season.
Makar is also the only player in the NHL to reach 10 points this season through four games for each team. His two third-period assists put him ahead of both Boston’s Brad Marchand and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby in the NHL points race (nine points each).
“He might be the best player in the league right now,” superstar center Nathan MacKinnon said of his teammate.
MacKinnon scored the empty netter, capping off a night where Colorado also had goals from Andre Burakovsky, Devon Toews, Nichushkin and Makar. His fifth of the series leads the Avs and is tied with four others for the most in the league.
The Avalanche had to once again turn to Pavel Francouz in goal to close out the series. Usually the backup, Francouz entered the series late in the first period of Game 3 to replace Darcy Kuemper following an eye injury.
Kuemper is expected to be ready for Round 2, which could start next Monday as the Avs await the winner of the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild series — currently knotted up at 2-2.
Aarif Deen is our Colorado Avalanche beat reporter. He covers Avs games live from Ball Arena and attends practices, media availabilities and other events pertaining to the Avs on the daily beat. He is also a co-host of Hockey Mountain High: Your go-to Avalanche Podcast. Deen joined Mile High Sports upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department as the assistant sports information director.