Things Get Heated in Game 2 As Oilers Struggle with Discipline; Avs Lead Series 2-0

After the Game 1 snipe fest, everyone was unsure about what type of game they were in for when the puck hit the ice for Game 2. Memes were surfacing on Thursday leading up to the game of score predictions being that of a college football game and making fun of the apparent lack of goaltending and defense. While those make for entertaining pictures to share with your friends, it doesn’t give you the full picture of just how things played out.

Thursday, the Avalanche made the announcement that Francouz was going to be the man between the pipes after starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper removed himself in the 2nd period of Game 1. I initially reported that Kuemper was dealing with equipment malfunctions, however on Wednesday, it was revealed that he removed himself due to “blurry vision… and he was unable to see the puck”.

This is a very concerning development for the Avalanche, as Kuemper was removed in Game 2 of the first series against the Predators after a blade from a stick slipped through his mask and struck him around his eye. This caused Kuemper to miss the final 2 games of that series, but he returned to action in Game 1 against St. Louis and has been in the net until last night.

When the puck dropped, the Avalanche came out with momentum on their side, and Edmonton looked as if they were trying to make up for dropping the series opener. As the period progressed, fans saw very physical play from both teams.

Unfortunately, physical play also means running the risk of getting a penalty. During the 1st, Edmonton had a total of 4 penalties. This resulted in them playing at least one man down for approximately 30% of the 1st period.

At one point, the Avalanche had a 5 on 3 advantage for 1:32 but were unable to capitalize on it. In fact, Colorado went 0-3 on power play opportunities in the first period.

Unlike Game 1, the first period ended scoreless, but the defense and goal tending were displaying a much better performance on both sides.

Moving into the 2nd, it was important for Edmonton to regain their discipline. Two of the three power plays in the first were from them retaliating after a big hit. One of the penalties was for slashing after an open ice hit, and the other was for elbowing when checking MacKinnon into the boards. It appeared Edmonton was trying to make up for their lack of play through cheap shots, but Colorado remained disciplined in their play and stuck to the game plan.

The second picked up right where the first left off. Both teams were up and down the ice. With 16:02 left in the 2nd, the Avalanche were able to take advantage of sloppy passing by Edmonton. Nazem Kadri took a shot towards the net and the puck was deflected in by Artturi Lehkonen to finally open the scoring and give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead.

Almost immediately following the faceoff at center ice, Colorado was able to catch Edmonton off guard again and Josh Manson was able to add on to the lead just 15 seconds after Lehkonen kicked things off. The Avalanche were leading 2-0.

Unfortunately for Edmonton, things did not get much better. Colorado continued applying pressure on Edmonton’s Mike Smith and with just under 14 minutes left in the 2nd period, Kadri was able to take advantage of a 2 on 1 break away and provided the assist to Miko Rantanen, who snuck the third goal past Smith in just over 2 minutes. The Avalanche had a nice lead of 3-0, as the frustration from Edmonton was already beginning to show.

At this point, all three goals were from the same line of the Avalanche and Nazem Kadri added to his post season points by assisting on all three of them.

As the 2nd period ended, the Avalanche had picked up a pair of 2 minute minors for high sticking but were still able to close out the period with a 3-0 lead.

As the third period began, Colorado and Edmonton both came out hard. In the first quarter of the period, the Avalanche created some pressure, but were noticeably sloppier in their own zone than in the previous two periods.

With just under 15 minutes left in regulation, Colorado was able to keep extended pressure in the offensive zone, forcing Edmonton defenders to push through a 2:30 shift. Finally, Edmonton was able to clear the puck out of their zone to get a shift change in but were caught with too many men on the ice and gave the Avalanche their fourth power play opportunity.

As the power play came to a close, Archibald checked Byram into the Edmonton bench. While leaning over the wall, Byram had his helmet pulled off by Zack Kassian who was sitting on the bench. Byram threw a punch at Kassian as he was getting back to his feet, causing both to go to the penalty box for some 4 on 4 hockey.

With just over 5 and a half left to play, Edmonton’s Patrick Kane had a hard hit against Cale Makar on the boards behind the net. As play continued, Kane was called for throwing an elbow into Makar’s head which gave Colorado their 5th power play of the game.

After failing to capitalize on the previous 4 power plays, Nathan MacKinnon was able to hit a one timer from the left circle on an assist from Cale Makar to put the Avalanche up 4-0 with just over 4 minutes remaining in regulation.

After that goal, things began to get really chippy on the ice. Edmonton seemed to have given up on coming back and shifted their focus to cross checking and targeting Avalanche players. With just over a minute left in regulation, Kane of Edmonton took another penalty for cross checking giving Colorado their 6th power play of the game.

Just 18 seconds into the power play, Oilers’ Darnell Nurse was called for cross checking, putting Colorado on a 2 man advantage to finish off regulation.

Game 2 finished with a final of 4-0 Colorado, giving them a 2 game lead in the series. This is the first shutout of the playoffs this year and second career playoff shutout for Pavel Francouz, which serves as a nice early birthday present since he turns 32 tomorrow.

Game 3 will be in Edmonton on Saturday, where the Oilers will look to try and make their mark on the series. Puck drops at 8PM EST and can be found on TNT.

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