The Colorado Avalanche looked to even up their playoff series with the Nashville Predators at two games apiece Wednesday night at Pepsi Cente,r but fell short of doing so as the Predators won the contest by the score of 3-2.
The Avalanche scored both of their goals in the third period and pushed for a late comeback, but failed, sending the series back to Nashville with a 3-1 Predators lead.
“They put us on our heels early,” Nathan MacKinnon said. “We didn’t get any momentum until late in the third. It’s just too late.”
In each of the previous three games the Avalanche were able to get out of the first period with a lead and some confidence, however, Wednesday night the Avs were unable to replicate that feat, looking flat and submissive to Nashville’s powerful forecheck.
The Avs started the game on the wrong foot as they had to kill off a five-on-three Predators power play just 1:19 into the game.
“First period, we come out, I don’t think the three-on-five against helped us,” coach Jared Bednar said after the game. “It kind of gave them a little rhythm, a little confidence, and then they came after us.”
Due to the early man advantage, the Predators were able to set the tone right away.
“We had to be prepared that they were going to come at us hard,” Bednar continued. “I just didn’t think we found that urgency and desperation early enough.”
The first period ended 1-0 but could’ve easily been much worse from Colorado’s standpoint as the Predators smothered Colorado in all facets of the game.
Nashville’s goal came with 4:27 left in the first when Filip Forsberg used his speed to get around Avs defenseman Duncan Siemens and cut across the crease to put the puck behind Jonathan Bernier who was down in a butterfly.
The second period was more of the same.
Colton Sissons scored Nashville’s second goal of the game from the hashmark of the left faceoff circle off of a cross-ice pass from Filip Forsberg. The shot beat Jonathan Bernier on his blocker side.
Nashville’s Craig Smith made it a 3-0 game when he left the penalty box and found himself entering the zone with the puck on a two-on-one. He walked in and elected to shoot and put the puck past Bernier, sucking the little bit of life that remained out of the Pepsi Center crowd just ahead of the second intermission.
The Avalanche went into the dressing room with some bad news in the injury department — as if they hadn’t had enough as of late. Jonathan Bernier left the game with a lower-body injury and Andrew Hammond’s time to shine had come, making his second appearance in an Avs sweater this season as well as his first postseason appearance since 2015.
“Once the second period ended I had a pretty good idea I was going in,” Hammond said. “It’s not the most ideal situation to get into a game, but it’s a situation you have to embrace and take advantage of.”
Hammond stopped all eight shots he faced.
The Avalanche were given a two-minute five-on-three power play early in the third period and they capitalized quickly. Captain Gabe Landeskog buried it from the doorstep, breathing some life into Colorado and sparking hopes for a late push.
Alex Kerfoot kept the hope alive, adding a goal off of a rebound from a Matt Nieto slapshot with 8:59 remaining. Unfortunately for Colorado, it would be the final scoring play of the night and the Avalanche can only hope to slay the mighty Predators in their building on Friday. Another loss will mean the end of their storybook season.
“What a great challenge to go into that building and steal one,” Landeskog said. “We don’t want the season to end like this in front of our home fans, so we’d like to get back here one more time. That will be the goal”
Puck drop Friday from Bridgestone Arena will be at 5 PM MST.