The Colorado Avalanche came into the regular season as the top favorite to win the Stanley Cup along with the Vegas Golden Knights. As expected, when the season came to an end it was both teams standing tall atop the West Division. While the Golden Knights battled to put away the Minnesota Wild in the opening round, the Avalanche easily dispatched the St. Louis Blues in a series sweep. The victories set up the showdown we all had penciled in for round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs and this series did not disappoint.
While many were ready to pencil the Avalanche into the semi-finals after the rout of the Golden Knights in game 1, the Avalanche quickly learned that the 2-0 series lead was just as fragile as a 2-0 lead in a game and that it can evaporate in a hurry. The Golden Knights effectively erased the deficit to send the series back to Denver tied for game 5 in what seemed at the time a must win for the Avalanche. They surely played like it was. The Avalanche came out dominating up and down the ice putting on a clinic and while they managed to catch Fleury on a rare bad goal, it was again a 2-0 lead that evaporated from their grasps. Up 2-0 with the game and series momentum swinging heavily in their favor, the Golden Knights went to work. Roaring back to tie the game and then slamming home the winner courtesy of Mark Stone in overtime, the Golden Knights would return home riding a 3 game winning streak and holding all the cards in a must win elimination game.
23 seconds into game 6 and Colorado struck first. Again though, the Avalanche were no match for the desert and the rabid fan base inside The Fortress as Vegas would answer. Back and forth the two teams slugged it out in the heavyweight battle of the postseason trading goals until Alex Pietrangelo put the Golden Knights up for good in the dying seconds of the 2nd period. Pietrangelo who was brought in from the Blues for these exact moments and to shore up the defense has been dare I say golden?
After Pietrangelo put the Golden Knights up for good it was once again the depth of the 4th line, one that is easily among the best in the NHL helped shut the door. While the Avalanche threw everything they could at the net, Fleury turned aside 31 of the 33 shots faced including a few again for the highlight reels. Once the final buzzer let loose at The Fortress, the Avalanche were dispatched in another disappointing end while the Golden Knights return to the final four for the 3rd time in the young franchise history.
We are now halfway there, and an underdog darling awaits. Let’s ride some more.
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