Blowing third-period leads has become a thing of the past for the Avalanche.
Forward Andre Burakovsky scored the go-ahead goal came with 2:53 left in regulation to make it 3-2, the final score over the Arizona Coyotes on Friday at Rogers Place. With that goal, the Avalanche have now outscored the opposition 7-1 in the final frame.
Colorado led 1-0 and 2-1 off of goals from Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Jost, who was inserted into the lineup in place of Joonas Donskoi. But the Coyotes answered back both times. But as the “home team” continued to attack, Nazem Kadri shot a loose puck on goal that deflected off a defenseman and found its way to Burakovsky for the wide-open look at beating Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper.
Colorado’s starting goalie Philipp Grubauer made 30 stops, 15 of them in the second period to help the Avs take a 2-0 series lead in the first round.
“I think for me its the same approach as the first and second periods,” Grubauer said. “But as a team approach, we didn’t have our best period in the second period so we wanted to make sure that we need to make sure that we come out strong in the third and play our game. We got a little bit thrown off in the second. The more we can skate and the more we can get the puck into their zone and play smart and play the fast, the more it’s going to help us. That was a really strong period and I think Nate’s line was really good in the third period. He was all over the ice. Backchecking, forechecking, hitting guys. And that’s what we need from them.”
MacKinnon opened the scoring for the Avs, taking advantage of a Coyotes turnover before firing a shot past the goalie from the circle. His second goal in two games increased his point streak to five games since the NHL restart on August 1.
The Hart Trophy finalist led Colorado’s forwards with 21:30 of ice-time, including 9:38 in the third period. With Game 3 scheduled for 1 pm MST on Saturday, MacKinnon had no issue with his increased ice-time late in the game.
“Nah, I feel good. That’s why I win fitness testing every year. For that reason,” MacKinnon joked. “I like to play a lot. I feel good. I got all afternoon to recover so I’ll be buzzing tomorrow.”
Forward Vladislav Namestnikov started the game alongside MacKinnon and winger Mikko Rantanen but left early. Bednar said he was deemed unfit to play, as was Donskoi after Thursday’s optional skate.
Colorado has not led 2-0 in a series since 2014 against the Minnesota Wild when it was the top seed in the Central Division. The Wild ended up winning the next two games and four-of-five to upset the Avalanche in overtime of Game 7.