Avalanche Complete Second Post Season Sweep; Punch Ticket to Stanley Cup for First Time in 20 Years

If you watched Game 4, you may be getting more familiar with the various types of blood pressure medications available. The first game in this series was an intense game full of scoring by both sides. In Game 2, Edmonton was shut out and Game 3 was a heated battle that resulted in Edmonton’s Kane getting a one-game suspension. As the Oilers and Avalanche prepared to begin game 4, Edmonton was looking at a win or go home situation, while Colorado was looking at a win and go to the finals for the first time in 21 years.

Throughout the series, Edmonton has struggled with costly penalties that have put their team in bad positions. Their penalty kill unit has been stellar against the best power play unit this postseason, however, it has created unnecessary advantages for a dangerous Avalanche team. The Avalanche were a perfect 6-0 on the road coming into Game 4, outscoring opponents 30-15.

The keys to winning tonight for Edmonton were focusing on playing disciplined hockey, reducing turnovers in the defensive and neutral zones, and maximizing pressure in the offensive zone. For Colorado to win, they just need to continue keeping a level head and playing fast like they have been all year.

As we entered the first period, the play was solid by both teams for the first 2 or 3 minutes. With 17:00 left in the first, the Avalanche were already on a power play thanks to a slashing call on Kassian. Edmonton has killed 12 of 14 power play opportunities for the Avalanche this series, however this game started a little different.

Just 53 seconds into the power play, Cale Makar was able to get the puck past Mike Smith and give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead. This is the second game of the series where the Avalanche scored first.

As play continued through the first it appeared as though neither team was going to shy away from a physical game. There were numerous hits along the boards that left players from each team picking themselves up off the ice.

With 9:41 left in the 1st, Edmonton had their first shot at redemption due to a penalty on Colorado for holding a stick. Unfortunately, the Oilers weren’t able to capitalize, despite keeping constant pressure in the offensive zone for the first minute and a half of the power play.

After 16 minutes of play, the Oilers got their second power play opportunity thanks to a tripping call on Colorado’s Erik Johnson.

As the second power play got underway, Edmonton was looking to increase their success percentage. To this point, Edmonton was 1-7 on power play opportunities, including the earlier one in the 1st. the first 1:13 of the power play seemed a lot more like the Avalanche had the advantage as they were able to make shots on goal and force Edmonton into three defensive zone face offs.

As the first period came to an end, Makar was the only one to light up the score board, not only giving the Avalanche the lead but also notching his 18th point of the post season making him the team leader in points.

The second period was much faster for both teams. They moved the puck up and down the ice, and the hard hits just kept on coming. Leon Draisaitl was clearly fighting off an injury, but with just over 12 minutes left was able to assist Zach Hyman who scored the first goal for the Oilers, tying the game 1-1.

On the ensuing faceoff, Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog moved in for a hit along the boards on Kassian, and both players ended up on the ice, Landeskog very slow to get up. Once the hit was sorted by the refs, it was determined that Landeskog would head to the box for a minor holding penalty. This put Edmonton on their third power play of the game.

Just like the previous two opportunities, the Avalanche were able to stonewall Edmonton, killing the power play yet again.

For the duration of the second period, the Oilers were playing a different game of hockey. There was an obvious shift in momentum and energy, as Edmonton was spending a lot of time in the offensive zone putting the pressure on Pavel Francouz and testing each layer of the Avalanche defense.

With only 3 minutes remaining in the 2nd period, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was able to take advantage of a busted play just outside of the Avalanche zone and ended up on a breakaway play where he sunk the second goal past Francouz. This gave Edmonton their first lead of the must win game, 2-1.

At the 2-minute mark, Ryan Newhook was trying to clear the puck from his own end, and it went up and over the glass causing a delay of game penalty. This was the 4th consecutive penalty on the Avalanche and gave the Oilers a chance to quickly go ahead by 2 if they could convert.

Just 52 seconds into the power play, Connor McDavid was finally able to make something happen and scored on an assist from the injured Draisaitl. The Oilers were now ahead 3-1, scoring all three goals on a total of 6 shots.

When the clock hit zero in the 2nd period, the fans in Roger’s Place seemed to have renewed hope and a sense that their team might be able to extend this series at least one more game.

If Colorado had any chance of coming back in this game, they needed to address several aspects of their game. Through two periods, they have been playing largely undisciplined and racking up penalties. Frustration was beginning to surface from the Avalanche and with shooters like McDavid on the other side, the last thing you want to do is give them a man advantage. Giving them an advantage multiple times in a game is dangerous because he will eventually find a way to score, as he did at the end of the 2nd.

To start the 3rd period, Nathan MacKinnon and McDavid were facing off at center ice. Just 31 seconds into the period, Devon Towes was able to bank the puck off Cody Ceci to cut into the Edmonton lead, making it a 3-2 game. Landeskog and Makar both notching an assist on the Towes goal.

In a 4 on 2 breakaway, with just over 16 minutes left in the 3rd, Draisaitl made a cross ice pass to Hyman ricocheted the puck off Francouz’s facemask and into the net making this a 4-2 game.

Following the latest Hyman goal, things immediately started to heat up. Both teams were finishing their checks, and there was a lot of action developing behind the play. There were a lot of intercepted passes, some great puck handling and both teams seemed to be spending a lot of time just trying to clear the puck out of their own zone.

The Avalanche, being down by 2, showed they had no quit in them. With 11 minutes in regulation, Landeskog was able to get one in the net during an absolute scrum taking place in the crease. The Avalanche had just over half a period left to turn this 4-3 deficit into a tie game or win.

For the 5th consecutive time this game, Edmonton went on a power play due to a Mackinnon trip in the neutral zone with 9 minutes left on the clock. During the power play, Andrew Cogliano was attempting to block a shot from Tyson Barrie and the puck bounced off his hand. This sent Cogliano to the locker room and could be a pivotal injury for Colorado.

Shortly after the power play expired, MacKinnon was able to get a tipped puck and show why he is one of the greatest hockey players. At the 13:30 mark of the third period, MacKinnon was able to get the puck past Mike Smith and tied the game 4-4.

Not long after the game tying goal, Edmonton received a holding penalty with just under 6 minutes left in regulation, giving Colorado a man advantage.

Not even 1 minute into the power play, the man who drew the penalty Miko Rantanen, was able to take advantage and blast the puck past Smith to give the Avalanche a 5-4 lead. That is 3 goals on the last 5 shots in just over 5 minutes of game play.

Edmonton was not giving up. With their season on the line and under 4 minutes left, Kassian was able to cash in on a Draisaitl rebound to tie the game 5-5. At this point, the proverbial gloves were off. Edmonton was now playing for the win and so was Colorado. The stars of each club were putting everything they had on display. Speed, puck handling, passes and amazing saves. Both Smith and Francouz were able to stand tall in the net, and just like Game 1 of the series sent this one into overtime.

As overtime kicked off, there was a lot of back and forth between both teams. Not long into the extra period, Makar took a shot from the blue line that was deflected in by Artturi Lehkonen. The deflection was blocked, but Lehkonen was able to get the rebound and slide the puck in for the win. Final score 6-5 Colorado, who move on to their first Stanley Cup Finals since 2001.

This is the second series sweep of the 2022 post season for the Colorado Avalanche, as they eliminated the Edmonton Oilers in 4 games. Cale Makar has been one of the most crucial players of this post season and tallied a total of 5 points in Game 4. Questions still remain about the status of Nazem Kadri and his injury; however, the Avalanche now have several days to figure that out. This is the second year in a row that Lehkonen has scored the game winning overtime goal to put his team into the finals. While the Avalanche await the results of the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning series, one thing has been made abundantly clear. The Colorado Avalanche are by far the most dangerous team in the playoffs this year.

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