What did we learn from Game 5: Avalanche vs. Predators

Apr 20, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) watches Colorado Avalanche right wing Sven Andrighetto (10) score a goal during the third period in game five of the first round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The pesky Colorado Avalanche battled back with two late third period goals to extend their series against the Nashville Predators. With the win, the Avs now have a chance to force a game seven with a victory at the Pepsi Center on Sunday.

What did we learn from Game 5?

  1. The Matt Duchene trade is truly the gift that keeps on giving. Andrew Hammond was considered nothing more than a throw-in, but with both Semyon Varlamov and Jonathan Bernier injured, he’s now the starting goaltender, and he just went into Nashville and stole a game for his team. He was technically sound all night and made a tremendous save on Filip Forsberg with about a minute left to preserve the victory. What a story.
  2. Speaking of the Duchene trade, Samuel Girard returned to the lineup after a three-game absence and his return was felt immediately. He skated the puck out several times for clean breakouts, and he came close to scoring early in the game, ripping a slap shot off the post. Girard in the lineup allowed the coaching staff to spread the ice time evenly among their top-five defensemen.
  3. Sven Andrighetto was demoted to the fourth line, only because of the strong play of Colin Wilson, and it paid off late in the game, scoring the game-winner and his first goal of the series, sending the series back to Colorado.
  4. Nathan MacKinnon was a monster again, attempting nine shots and leaving P.K. Subban in the dust on the game-tying goal by Gabriel Landeskog. There is no question who the best player in this series is right now.
  5. With the return of Girard, the Avs rolled five defensemen almost exclusively, and it worked for at least one night. All five of those defensemen (Nemeth, Zadorov, Girard, Barberio, Barrie) played over 20 minutes, and Duncan Siemens only saw eight shifts all game long.
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