The Colorado Avalanche might be down to their third-string goaltender, but they aren’t going down without a fight.
On the back of a 44 save performance from Andrew Hammond, the Colorado Avalanche went into Nashville and stole game five with a gutsy 2-1 victory. Late goals by Gabriel Landeskog and Sven Andrighetto proved to be the difference, but the real star was Hammond, who was starting only his second game in an Avalanche uniform. With the victory, the Avs will now head home with a chance to force a game seven, something Avalanche fans could have never imagined seven months ago.
For a young team on the brink of elimination, the Avalanche did not look nervous. For the first thirty minutes of the game, they were the better team, especially in the first period, where they controlled 62 percent of the shot attempts at even strength. Neither team was able to bury a goal, but the Avalanche would come close, including a slapshot from Samuel Girard that struck iron.
The second period was more of the same. The Avs jumped out and created a lot of chances early, led by Nathan MacKinnon, who had five shots in just the first 30 minutes alone. The second half of the period would prove to be a little different, as Nashville would start to come on and generate some great chances. Hammond robbed Calle Jarnkrok in close on an odd-man rush, and would stand even taller during a chaotic shift that lasted about two minutes in the Avs zone alone. In the end, neither team was able to put one past either goaltender, and they entered the third period in a scoreless tie.
At the start of the third period, it looked like the veteran Nashville Predators would find a way to finish it all off. They generated ten of the first eleven shot attempts in the period, and a little over halfway through the period, they would find a way to break through. Although the goal was originally called off, Nick Bonino put the Predators ahead after he deflected a rebound off his skate and past Andrew Hammond. The goal should have been a gut punch for the Avs, but instead, it seemed to ignite them.
From that point on, the Avalanche took over. The Carl Soderberg line had some extended zone time not long after the goal, and soon after, the big line took over. A terrific shift by the Nathan MacKinnon line, with a little help from the Barrie/Zadorov pairing would get the Avs on the board, as MacKinnon took a great pass from Mikko Rantanen in the slot and danced around P.K. Subban on his way to feeding a wide open Gabriel Landeskog to tie the game. At this point, you’d think the game would have been headed to overtime, but the Avalanche had different ideas.
An unfortunate pinch by Subban would lead to an odd-man rush for the Avalanche. While J.T. Compher‘s initial shot was stopped, his shot would prove to be too difficult for Pekka Rinne to handle, and Sven Andrighetto would clean up the rebound to give the Avs the lead late. A huge save at the other end by Hammond on Filip Forsberg was all the Avs needed to force a game six back at the Pepsi Center.
Game six has been announced to have a 5 PM MST start time, and the Pepsi Center will be rocking. This young Avalanche team has a chance to force an improbable game seven with a victory on Sunday, and they will no doubt be fired up to do so.