DENVER — Cale Makar sent a low liner through traffic then quickly found himself surrounded by happy teammates.
Perhaps the happiest was the other end. After all, it was goalie Darcy Kuemper’s 32nd birthday. The goal made for quite a gift.
Makar posted an 8:31 in overtime, Kuemper made 25 saves and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Nashville Predators 2-1 on Thursday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first round playoff series.
Makar got the rebound in the middle of the offensive zone and put the puck right on target – just like he had been doing all night. His 12 shots on goal set a new franchise playoff record.
“It just felt like the puck was going to find us up there tonight,” explained the humble Makar. “Not even me specifically, we were just trying to work around it.”
Nathan MacKinnon also scored for Colorado, who faced a more intense Nashville defense after a 7-2 win in Game 1. The Predators blocked 34 shots.
“We felt like we were on them the entire third period and eventually the hockey gods will reward you for that hard work most of the time,” Makar said. “For us we were able to get a lucky one in extra time.”
The series moves to Nashville for Game 3 on Saturday.
Yakov Trenin scored for Nashville.
Connor Ingram stepped in and stopped 49 shots as he made his first postseason start. He allowed MacKinnon’s goal on the first shot of the game and reversed everything until Makar’s goal.
Ingram, 25, replaced David Rittich in the first game after the Avalanche scored five goals in the first half. The Predators are without top goaltender Juuse Saros, who is out with a lower body injury but could return later in the series.
“It’s what you dream of as a kid, to have a chance to do it and play in front of an audience like that,” said Ingram, whose parents attended the game. “It makes a lot of fun.”
Since moving to Denver, the Avalanche are in a best-of-seven playoff series 14-2 if they win their first two games.
Colorado had a goal disallowed in the final seconds of the second period due to goaltender interference. Artturi Lehkonen fell to Ingram before a shot from Valeri Nichushkin found the goal. The Avalanche challenged the game and officials upheld the request for a replay.
It put Nashville on the power play to start the third. Shortly thereafter, the Predators had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:52 when Nichushkin went into the penalty box for a high stick. But they couldn’t capitalize. Makar’s best chance of scoring came from a breakaway, only for his shot to land in Ingram’s glove.
Ingram was at his best in the third period when he stopped a Nazem Kadri shot from close range with his left pad. Ingram spent most of the season with the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League, where he won 30-17-9. He appeared in three regular season games for Nashville that season.
His counterpart applauded Ingram’s efforts.
“He played great,” said Kümper. “He came in with not much experience and was definitely ready to go. Made it difficult for our shooters.”
Both teams fought on the power play and went 0 to 8 together. There were 110 goals together.
“They are a top attacking team in the league. They do that to a lot of teams,” said Predators coach John Hynes. “If you want to beat them, you have to have strong goalkeeping. I thought the way our guys defended and the way they played when they were under pressure was at the level you need tonight.
The first period was very different from Game 1 for the Predators as they conceded five goals. This time they overtook the Avalanche by an 11-8 lead.
Trenin tied the game at 1:41 in the first game. He celebrated by jumping into the boards behind the goal.
MacKinnon scored the first goal on the game’s first shot 5:25 into the action. He fired a shot to the stick side of Ingram on a mini breakaway. MacKinnon has 73 points (31 goals, 42 assists) in 52 career playoff games.
“He’s definitely a different animal in the playoffs,” Makar said. “That’s probably why he’s the best player in the world.”
https://nypost.com/2022/05/06/nhl-playoffs-2022-avalanche-win-in-ot-take-2-0-series-lead/ Avalanche wins in OT, takes a 2-0 lead