Kraken win Game 5, putting the Avs on the brink of getting bounced

Apr 27, 2023, 6:59 AM

Mikko Rantanen...

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

“Shoot the puck!”

“Shoot the puck!”

A fan sitting on the glass next to Bernie the mascot screamed that phrase repeatedly. The Avs net was empty and the crowd was desperate. This sullen refrain echoed in the halls of Ball Arena as a wilted fan base walked away without much hope.

The Avalanche faithful have been told repeatedly by head coach Jared Bednar that this isn’t last year’s team. If there was any remaining doubt, everybody finally gets it.

“We’re gonna have to reset,” said Bednar. “I still feel we haven’t played anywhere near our best.”

The Avs dropped a 3-1 decision to the Seattle Kraken at Ball Arena on Wednesday night, looking like the team from their 48-point season rather than the defending Stanley Cup champs. They will travel to Seattle for Game 6 on Friday down 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, looking for a miracle to stay alive.

“It’s just the disconnect between all five guys on the ice,” Avs defenseman Devin Toews said, trying to explain what’s been missing. “One guys working and the other guys are watching and waiting, not supporting and helping getting the puck out of our zone. It’s just a little disconnect right now.”

For the fifth game in a row, the Kraken scored the first goal. It took some time, as neither team got on the board in the opening 20 minutes, but the nightmare start was simply delayed rather than corrected.

“We didn’t have our A game or our B game tonight, ” said Nathan MacKinnon. “We are just shooting ourselves in the foot. There are plays to be made and we just aren’t making them right now. I don’t know. I don’t know what’s been going on around here. But, we still have a chance to turn it around.”

The only two Avs player who are apparently allowed to score combined on the Avs first goal. Mikko Rantanen scooped up a poor clearing attempt from Seattle goalie Philipp Grubauer, firing it towards the net. The puck deflected off Nathan MacKinnon’s skate as he was driving to the net. It was a blend of luck and hard work. It felt that perhaps things would turn in the Avs favor.

The good feelings wouldn’t last long.

MacK thought he was tripped behind the Seattle net. As he rose, he whirled around with his stick, viscously smashing it into the glass. The axe-like swing would’ve beheaded any poor soul in its path. The ref sternly pointed MacK to the bench as you can’t get a penalty for being ticked off and trying to destroy your own equipment. If there was a Kraken player in the way, MacKinnon may have been put away for manslaughter.

“I gotta keep my cool there better,” said MacKinnon. “I can’t get upset. It’s on me there.”

The play zipped into the Avs zone and with MacK standing on the bench still furious. Then, 21-year-old Tye Kartye blasted home his first-ever playoff goal in his first-ever playoff game.

“It’s pretty crazy,” said Kartye. “It’s been a whirlwind. I’ve been working hard for long time and it feels pretty good.”

This remarkable story was made possible because the hit that got Cale Makar suspended took out Jared McCann. Kartye was in the lineup because McCann was out. It only made sense that the replacement, who had never played in an NHL game, would end up scoring. The hockey gods took their pound of flesh.

The Kraken have just proved to be more dynamic top to bottom. They were more determined in their play and ability to simply get the puck on the net. Yanni Gourde threw a missle at the Avs keeper from just inside the blue line. Georgiev didn’t even come close to seeing it. Whistling past him snapping the twine Georgie didn’t move a muscle.

The 3-1 score felt like a death sentence.

Seattle continued to clog up the lanes and forecheck with steely determination. Colorado had no choice. They had to play with reckless abandon which led to several dangerous chances for the Kraken.

Evan Rodrigues was sent in as the extra attacker when Georgiev was pulled with over 3:45 left. His wobbly slapper for the point incredibly deflected off two Kraken players to beat Grubi making the score 3-2 Seattle. However, the faint heartbeat was put out, as the Kraken closed the lanes not allowing the Avs to get the needed goal to tie things up.

“I’d say in this series, confidence is low,” said Bednar. “We gotta find a way to get it back and build it back.”

The Avalanche were also dealing with how to replace the absent Valeri Nichsushkin. As time goes on, it seems that Big Val is responsible for his absence rather than something happening to him. But with limited information, the latest drinking game is to take a shot every time somebody suggests a new rumor.

Whatever the specific reason is doesn’t matter now. He clearly won’t be back for this series. Maybe the truth comes out later. Maybe it doesn’t. The harsh reality is whatever the cause it clearly had a dramatic impact on this series and this series is almost over.

“We gotta reset right away,” said Rantanen. “We can’t put our heads down. It’s far from over. We just gotta look forward to the next game.”

The Avs will desperately try to stay alive in the Emerald City on Friday night. With repeated words like “reset” and “reconnect” being uttered after Game 5, it’s fair to say that the Avs are searching for answers this late in the year that may never come.

It feels like a million years since that joyous Cup parade in June when Avs fans thought a dynasty was being built.



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Kraken win Game 5, putting the Avs on the brink of getting bounced