Same ol, same ol for the Avalanche, who failed to advance beyond the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the third year in a row.
The Presidents’ Trophy and home ice didn’t turn out to be an advantage after all for a highly-skilled team that committed too many turnovers, didn’t score enough clutch goals and lost the final four games of the best-of-7 series to the Vegas Golden Knights after winning the first two at Ball Arena.
A 6-3 loss on Thursday at T-Mobile Arena, where the Avalanche lost all three visits by a combined 14-6 score, ended the most disappointing postseason in quite some time.
Here’s the NHL.com GAME STORY.
Hey, Vegas is good, really good. The Golden Knights, who open semifinal series play Monday against the Montreal Canadiens, could take the whole thing.
The Avalanche hadn’t lost four in a row all season.
"I am definitely motivated, and it just sucks losing four in a row to a team," said Nathan MacKinnon
, who had two assists in Game 6 after he was held off the scoresheet the three previous games. "It felt like last year was our first real chance to win.
“And this year, I mean I thought we were the best team in the league, but for whatever reason we couldn't get it together. I am sure in training camp next year we will figure it out and dissect things and come back better."
Game 1 - Avalanche 7-1
Game 2 -Avalanche 3-2 (OT)
Game 3 – Vegas 3-2
Game 4 – Vegas 5-1
Game 5 – Vegas 3-2 (OT)
Game 6 – Vegas 6-3
The Avalanche went 39-13-4, good for 82 points and the No. 1 seed in the league, but Vegas also had 82 points and finished second because of the tiebreaker (regulation wins).
It certainly didn’t help that second-line center Nazem Kadri
went and got suspended for the final eight games, his sixth career suspension and third in the postseason.
As lousy as he was down the stretch – one goal, six assists in the final 26 regular-season games – Kadri was terrific in the playoffs a year ago with 18 points (nine goals, nine assists), five game-winning goals, and the Avalanche dearly missed him.
Not sure what holds for his future in Colorado, but that’s a story for another day.
After blowing out a Vegas team 7-1 that was coming off a seven-game series with the Minnesota Wild and a travel day between series, the Avalanche were fortunate to pull out a 3-2 overtime win in Game 2 at home and were in position to steal Game 3 in Las Vegas before allowing two late goals 45 seconds apart in a 3-2 loss that prompted coach Jared Bednar
to call out his top players.
The Avalanche responded with a dismal 5-1 loss in Game 4 and were playing as well as they had at any point in the playoffs in Game 5 at Ball Arena, taking a 2-0 lead into the third period.
It all came apart at the seams when Andre Burakovsky
, who scored his only playoff goal Thursday, committed an awful turnover that cut the lead to 2-1 and changed the momentum. Vegas used a Gabriel Landeskog
turnover to tie the game and won 3-2 in overtime following back-to-back Ryan Graves shots that were blocked.
Then came Thursday’s season-ending loss when Vezina Trophy finalist Philipp Grubauer
allowed five goals on 22 shots.
"Looking back on it now and evaluating the series afterwards, obviously Game 2 we got away with a win there where I think probably they were the better team,” Landeskog said. “Then Game 3 especially we didn't play good at all. Game 4, we really competed hard, made mistakes that they scored on, and Game 5 obviously we are in control the whole game.
“Game 5 is a really strong effort from us, and we make three turnovers and they score on all three of them. Then (Thursday) I thought we fought real hard and battled and worked our asses off and kept coming.”
Now comes another bitter offseason without a Stanley Cup.
“If people want to point the finger at someone, yeah, I hope it’s me,” Bednar said. “I’m confident I can guide this team. I’m dedicated to this team with my preparation, my relationships with the guys.
“You got to reflect on it and spend some time and put some deep thought into it, not that you are not putting thought into it all year, but there are always things you can learn, there's always things you got to get better at.
“Individually, myself, our team, our players and then collectively as a group as well, we will identify some of those things and get ready for another go at it."