so the vegas golden knights won, right?
the avalanche won, anyway.
they won 3-2 in overtime at denver on wednesday and took a 2-0 lead in the second round of the stanley cup, thanks to a rantanen power-play goal at 2:07 of overtime, 39 saves from Philipp Grubauer and a little help from Grubauer’s goalposts.
That should worry the Golden Knights, who were much better than they were in a 7-1 loss in Game 1, but should be even better in Game 3 in Las Vegas on Friday (10 p.m. ET; nbcsn, cbc, sn, tvas).
and that should scare the rest of the nhl, like nobody’s scared anymore.
the avalanche is on a six-game winning streak to open the stanley cup playoffs. they can dominate you, as they showed by winning each of their first five games by three goals or more, and they can win one, too, as they showed on Wednesday.
“if i look at the two games we played [against vegas], the first one we played very well and then it wasn’t our best game, but we still found a way,” rantanen said. “That’s what we’ve been doing all year. Sometimes we haven’t felt it, and [Grubauer has] been playing amazing and stealing some wins for us like today. But that’s what you need if you want to win the cup.” /p>
To appreciate the depth of this team, consider that when Brandon Saad gave Colorado a 1-0 lead in the first period, he stretched their scoring streak to five games. the avalanche has people like mackinnon, rantanen, landeskog and makar, and they still have a forward who won the stanley cup twice, with the chicago blackhawks in 2013 and 2015, and he can produce like that.
Also consider that Colorado had four power plays in the first period, and it wasn’t the first unit but the second unit that cashed in to make it 2-1. Forward Tyson Jost scored his second of the playoffs. again, that’s depth.
“I liked our first period,” coach jared bednar said. “We were skidding, taking penalties, winning a lot of races, winning a lot of puck battles. And in the last 40 minutes, we didn’t do that.”
the golden knights took over in the second and third. they did not allow the offensive stars of the avalanche to have time and space. They blocked shots. they won battles and created scoring chances.
but they never got ahead thanks to grubauer and his goals.
grubauer, a vezina trophy finalist this season, took a shot from jonathan marchessault late in the second, enough to send the puck off the post.
early in the third, reilly smith hit a post and then grubauer stopped a rush opportunity from max pacioretty. Later in the third, Grubauer stopped Alex Tuch alone up front.
video: vgk@col, gm2: grubauer denies tuch with saved glove
finally, during a las vegas power play late in the third, smith hit a post. Grubauer got the glove from him on another marchessault shot and soaked up a point shot through traffic to keep the game tied.
“He rescued us today,” Rantanen said. “I think he had a really, really good game, and he kept us in the game. Basically, he was the reason we parted ways… [grubauer] was amazing and hands down the best player in the game.”
the game-winning goal could have summed up the power of colorado and the situation of vegas.
smith received an offensive zone penalty when he cut rantanen’s stick from his hands on a faceoff. not a good penalty to take in that situation. not a good penalty for this particular team.
the golden knights tried to keep the puck away from mackinnon on the penalty kick, as they tried to do in every situation all night. they tried to cut off the passing lane from makar at the tip to mackinnon on the left flank. good idea. Mackinnon scored eight goals in his first five playoff games.
But eventually Makar handed the puck to Mackinnon, who moved away from Gold Knights forward William Karlsson to create space, found a seam and fired a cross into the correct circle.
rantanen took the pass and blasted the puck past marc-andre fleury, and that was it.
video: vgk@col, gm2: rantanen rifles ppg home in overtime
if they’re the golden knights, they rule out the lopsided loss in game 1 due to fatigue after a seven-game series against the minnesota wild in the first round and a day’s rest. they are reminded that they played better in game 2, haven’t lost a home game yet, went 4-4-0 against the avalanche in the regular season and tied them on points (82), losing the presidents trophy to them by regulation tiebreaker-win (35-30).
If you’re the avalanche, you feel good knowing you can win without your ‘a’ game.
“It wasn’t our best game, we know that,” Rantanen said. “But that’s what we need. We need to find a way even when we’re not playing our best.”