Game 5 was a pretty obvious script for the Avalanche’s season drawing to a close. Attempting to win a playoff road game for the first time in 8 years, backup to the backup goalie starting in net against the President’s Trophy winners. Nope! A situation like this calls for ethereal and intangible factors rising from unlikely sources to make big plays when it matters and the Avs got that from Andrew Hammond and many others last night.
Last minute comebacks are pretty rare in the playoffs. According to NHL PR, the last time a team was down with 5 minutes or less to go and ended with a victory was in 2013 when the Blackhawks pulled off a miracle against the B’s in game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. That’s really freaking cool in itself, but the way the Avs managed to do it takes that to another level. Mack playing passy instead of shooty, Comphs and Sven slamming a 2v1 down hard, all the while with Preds defensemen lying prone on the ice like a bunch of logs after a clearcut. Game 6, here we come.
Our good friend StephHouse tweeted out the game chart with the caption “there were 3 games in this game” and that sums it up perfectly. After a tentative opening for both teams, the Avs went on a tear with a 23-5 run from the middle of the 1st to the middle of the 2nd period. The Preds then said something like “Holy shit, we need to get rid of these guys” and proceeded to plow through the Avs for the next 20+ minutes to the tune of 33-10 on the shot board. Along the way they picked up the only goal of the game to that point on a skate deflection. Pleased with themselves they decided to shell up and take their chances. NOT SMART.
The Avs roared back with a late 7 shot run ending with Mack breaking Subban’s ankles and sliding a fantastic pass to Captain Gabe for the equalizer. This snapped Nashville out of their funk for a minute but they sold out too hard for the win, letting JT Compher and Sven Andrighetto up ice with a 2v1 that again had them all falling down. Stunned at their misfortune, they got a few shots away at Hammond but nothing dangerous and that was that.
Final tally was +46/-54 for what it’s worth, scoring chances in about the same ratio. The real difference was shots on goal, which ended 36-22 for NSH at 5v5 and 45-27 overall, but the Avs worked their magic at limiting dangerous chances well so that’s a little misleading.
Special teams weren’t much of a factor, the officials were fine letting this one play out on the ice which is greatly appreciated. Avs stopped all 3 Preds PP chances and didn’t convert on either of their own.
Oh by the way, Sam Girard was back and he was sharp. The Avs went with a 5 man rotation racked Z, Sam, Barrie, Nemeth, Barbs at 5v5 and Nemeth, Z, Sam, Barbs, Barrie overall. Duncan Siemens played 4:11 total with almost half of that on PK as the token 6th D.
Top 6 forwards were Mack’s line then Carl’s line at 5v5 and overall the same thing. No forward broke the 20 minute plane and Mack/Landy topped out right around 19 minutes. The staff made a subtle shift in the bottom 6 putting Colin Wilson with Kerfoot and Jost, and moving Andrighetto with Compher and Bourque. Both lines were solid and of course JTC/Sven collaborated on the GWG so I’d say that paid off handsomely.
– Mack’s line was quiet at times but came through when needed. All 3 got points on the crucial tying goal and didn’t get totally buried. The mirrored the team going +10/-5 in P1, +5/-7 in P2 and +5/-10 in P3.
– Carl’s line did get buried but for whatever reason this seems to be a contra indicator. They seem to suck up bad shot metrics so the rest can survive.
– By TOI the Compher line was used slightly more than the Kerf line but not in any meaningful way. Swapping Sven and Willie worked out great, giving Kerf/Jost some needed grit and Compher someone to pass to that can finish. Hopefully we get some time to see these two more balanced lines develop some chemistry because they seemed to work well last night.
– Despite not having Siemens pretty much at all, the rest of the D were used but not overused and all ended up with between 20-25 minutes. Sam returning to the lineup was a godsend because only playing 4 guys for most of the game made for some pretty dicey 3rd periods, not to mention that Girard was completely dominant in the 1st period at +10/-1. This regime is about as good as it gets with what the staff have to work with right now.
– Andrew Hammond was incredible. Stopped 44/45 for a slick 98% performance and did more than his share to steal the game. I didn’t have much hope that the Avs would win any 2-1 games in this series but he changed that bigtime. Well done, sir.
Burgundy Narrative Metric
– “Best guys being your best guys” gets a (+) CLUTCH GOALS
– Corsi gets a (-) but like we said, it was 3 games in one game
– Power Play gets a (-) Can’t mope too much about 0/2 but it still hurts
– Turtle gets a (+) Avs have 4 goals in the last 2 games during Nashville turtles so at least someone’s doing it right
– Varly% gets a (n/a) and Hammond was 1st star of the game
– Referee Oppression Index gets a (+) Really liked the management, 5 penalties total and the game was decided 5v5. Can’t ask for more.
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The Avs stare elimination in the face once again on Sunday evening, this time in front of the home crowd. Game time 7pm ET, you are not missing this one.