AVALANCHE

Missed call against MacKinnon changes game and series, Avs on the brink

Apr 26, 2023, 10:20 PM | Updated: 10:39 pm

One missed call can change a game and a series.

That happened to the Avalanche on Wednesday night at Ball Arena, as the referees missed a blatant trip on Nathan MacKinnon in the second period. With the game tied 1-1, MacKinnon was taken down in the Kraken zone by Will Borgen.

The referees inexplicably didn’t blow the whistle, and play continued. A livid MacKinnon slammed his stick against the boards, letting everyone know what he thought of the missed call.

And things only got worse from there, as Seattle’s Tye Kartye scored moments later, and suddenly the Avalanche trailed 2-1. In a 2-2 series, a potential two-goal swing because of incompetence by the officials simply can’t happen. But Colorado got burned by it and burned by it hard.

In the third period, Seattle got an early goal to make it 3-1 and completely sucked the life out of the building. Head coach Jared Bednar played Mackinnon more than 27 minutes, but even he couldn’t work his magic. Colorado did get a late goal from Evan Rodrigues to pull within one, although it was too little too late.

The 3-2 defeat sent fans home unhappy for the second time in this series. It could be the last Avs game at Ball Arena this season. Moments after the seats emptied, MacKinnon wasn’t thrilled when he met with the media.

“I get five feet on a guy and he takes my feet out,” MacKinnon told reporters. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. It’s not 1975. I feel like that’s a trip.”

Right now, the team looks mentally and physically exhausted. The mental part comes from all the uncertainty surrounding the Valeri Nichushkin situation and missing some of their best players all season. They had to skate without Nichushkin, Cale Makar and Gabriel Landeskog in Game 5.

The physical part comes from every single regular season game mattering, as opposed to cruising into the playoffs. They had to use so much energy to win the Central Division, the guys look gassed. Even Game 82, a must-win, came down to the final moments in the third period in Nashville.

It’d be silly to count the Avs out. They’re still the defending champions. But their season is on the brink, as one more win by the Kraken sends them on vacation for the summer.

Can they rally to take Game 6 on Friday night in Seattle? If anyone can, it’s this bunch with stars like MacKinnon, Makar and Mikko Rantanen. But this year also just feels way different than last, as they don’t have nearly the depth of the 2022 Stanley Cup team.

It’s a tall task, without a doubt, and we’ll learn a lot about this version of the Avs in just a couple of nights. If not, it’s tee-times and watching the rest of the postseason from the couch after a shocking Round 1 exit.

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