The Colorado Avalanche just keep rolling.
After sweeping the St. Louis Blues in the first round and destroying the Vegas Golden Knights by six goals in Game 1 of their second-round series, the Avalanche pushed their lead to 2-0 over their West Division rivals with a dramatic 3-2 overtime victory in Wednesday's Game 2 at Ball Arena.
Mikko Rantanen scored the winning goal after goaltender Philipp Grubauer led the way for much of the game.
The return of Marc-Andre Fleury in between the pipes wasn't enough for the Golden Knights, who will look to turn things around on home ice.
Notable Player Stats
- Philipp Grubauer, G, COL: 39-of-41 shots saved
- Mikko Rantanen, RW, COL: Game-winning goal
- Samuel Girard, D, COL: 2 AST
- Marc-Andre Fleury, G, VGK: 22-of-25 shots saved
- Shea Theodore, D, VGK: 2 AST
Philipp Grubauer Shines Before OT Goal
The scariest thing in the NHL at this point is Colorado's attack, and whether Vegas could at least contain it was one of the biggest storylines coming into Wednesday's game.
After all, it scored 5.4 goals per game in its first five postseason wins and poured in seven in the opening victory over the Golden Knights. The offense has been so dominant that it has largely overshadowed Vezina finalist Grubauer, who was largely dialed in during those first five wins.
It was more of the same right from the start in Game 2, as Colorado's speed and skill overwhelmed Vegas and created four power-play opportunities in the first period alone.
Brandon Saad and Tyson Jost found the back of the net in that opening 20 minutes with the latter goal coming on one of those power plays. To the visitors' credit, though, that didn't portend another blowout, as they finally slowed the Avalanche's daunting attack through the second period and put some of the pressure on Grubauer.
A tie game in the third period with a seemingly in-control Vegas slowing Colorado's offense and getting involved on the other end of the ice is the first time Grubauer has faced extensive pressure this postseason.
He responded beautifully to it and—with plenty of help from the post—kept the Avalanche in the game and forced overtime despite the Golden Knights' massive 41-25 advantage in shots.
That was all the Avalanche needed, and they fittingly took advantage of yet another power play when Rantanen buried a shot in overtime.
Missed Opportunities Cost Vegas
The only hope for Vegas coming out of Game 1 was the fact that Fleury didn't play and could swing the momentum of the series with one vintage performance.
Unfortunately for the visitors, it was hard to feel confident after the Vezina finalist gave up a goal to Saad through the 5-hole within the first four minutes. It didn't help that the team in front of him looked lost at the start and committed four penalties before the first period ended.
Even when Alec Martinez scored a power-play goal for the Golden Knights, the momentum was short-lived as Colorado took advantage of one of those power-play chances to retake the lead before the first period ended.
Then the second and third periods happened.
For the first time in the entire series, Vegas started to dictate play and establish a forecheck and consistent attack. The result was a game-tying goal from Reilly Smith in the second period and a dominant third period that gave the Golden Knights all the momentum heading into overtime even though they were surely thinking about all their shots that hit the post.
Fleury also deserved plenty of credit for silencing Colorado for multiple periods while Vegas flipped the momentum, which stood in stark contrast to Robin Lehner's Game 1 showing.
Still, the inability to fully capitalize when they controlled the majority of the game proved to be the Golden Knights' undoing. Missed breakaways and shots ringing off posts were the story of the evening for the visitors, and they took one too many penalties by the time the game ended.
The series shifts to Las Vegas for Friday's Game 3.