3 Keys: Golden Knights at Avalanche, Game 2 of second round

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No. 2 Golden Knights at No. 1 Avalanche

10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

Colorado leads best-of-7 series, 1-0

The Colorado Avalanche will try to remain dominant when they host the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Second Round at Ball Arena on Wednesday.

After winning the Presidents’ Trophy by finishing first in the NHL in the regular season, the Avalanche swept the St. Louis Blues in the first round and won Game 1 against the Golden Knights.

Each win has come by at least three goals; Colorado has outscored its opponents 27-8, including 7-1 in Game 1 of this series, and is the first team to open the playoffs with five straight wins by at least three goals since the New York Rangers opened with six straight such wins in 1994.

The Avalanche can become the third Presidents’ Trophy winners to open the playoffs with a streak of at least six wins since the trophy was first awarded in 1985-86, joining the Rangers, who opened with seven straight wins in 1994, and Dallas Stars, who opened with six straight in 1999.

They can tie the Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques record for a winning streak at any point in the playoffs. Colorado has won five straight twice before, in 1996 and 1999, but never six straight since the franchise moved to Denver in 1995. The Nordiques won six straight in 1987.

Colorado has gone 14-1 in best-of-7 series after taking a 2-0 lead since the move.

“You want to get out and playing your game, play to our identity right away,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “Last game, that meant skating, relentless puck pursuit. It has to be the same here tonight, because we know we’re going to get their best game.”

Here are 3 Keys for Game 2:

 
1. Fleury fresh

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to start for the Golden Knights after backing up Robin Lehner in Game 1.

Fleury went 26-10-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and six shutouts during the regular season, including 4-3-0 with a 2.14 GAA, .932 save percentage and two shutouts against Colorado. He was named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as top goalie in the NHL on Tuesday, along with Philipp Grubauer of the Avalanche and Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The 36-year-old went 4-3 with a 1.71 GAA, .931 save percentage and one shutout in the first round. The workload and turnaround were the main reasons Vegas went to Lehner in Game 1. Fleury has not played since Friday.

“He’s refreshed,” Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer said.

 
2. Colorado’s top players

The Avalanche’s top line of Gabriel Landeskog (two goals, one assist), Nathan MacKinnon (two goals, one assist) and Mikko Rantanen (one goal, one assist) lit up the scoreboard in Game 1. So did their top defenseman, Cale Makar (one goal, three assists).

Despite having played five games, MacKinnon leads the NHL in playoff goals (eight) and is tied for the lead in points (12) with Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov. Landeskog has 11 points (four goals, seven assists). Rantanen has nine points (two goals, seven assists). Makar has seven points (two goals, five assists).

Why have Colorado’s top players produced in the playoffs when other offensive stars have been bottled up?

“Well, maybe because there’s seven of them,” DeBoer said with a laugh. “That might have something to do with it. You know, you’re not shutting down one guy or two guys. They literally are that deep in elite offensive players when you start including some of their defensemen. There’s a lot to handle there.”

 
3. Comforts of home

The Avalanche are 3-0 at home in the playoffs. Dating to the regular season, they have won 12 straight at Ball Arena and are 19-0-1 in their last 20 games there.

They went 22-4-2 at home in the regular season, tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the most wins (22) and points (46) at home in the NHL. Their .821 points percentage at home was the highest since the franchise moved from Quebec.

The Golden Knights are 2-2 on the road in the playoffs after going 19-9-0 away from home during the regular season.

 
Golden Knights projected lineup

Max PaciorettyChandler StephensonMark Stone

Jonathan MarchessaultWilliam KarlssonReilly Smith

Dylan SikuraNicolas RoyAlex Tuch

William CarrierPatrick BrownKeegan Kolesar

Alec MartinezAlex Pietrangelo

Nick HoldenShea Theodore

Nicolas HagueZach Whitecloud

Marc-Andre Fleury

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Dylan Coghlan, Carl Dahlstrom, Jack Dugan, Cody Glass, Kaedan Korczak, Jiri Patera, Jonas Rondbjerg, Jimmy Schuldt, Logan Thompson 

Injured: Mattias Janmark (upper body), Peyton Krebs (fractured jaw), Tomas Nosek (undisclosed)

Suspended: Ryan Reaves

COVID-19 protocol: Brayden McNabb

 
Avalanche projected lineup

Gabriel Landeskog — Nathan MacKinnon — Mikko Rantanen

Brandon SaadTyson JostValeri Nichushkin

Andre BurakovskyJ.T. CompherJoonas Donskoi

Alex NewhookPierre-Edouard BellemareSampo Ranta

Devon Toews — Cale Makar

Ryan GravesSamuel Girard

Patrik NemethConor Timmins

Philipp Grubauer

Devan Dubnyk

Scratched: Bowen Byram, Jonas Johansson, Jacob MacDonald, Liam O’Brien, Dan Renouf, Kiefer Sherwood, Carl Soderberg

Injured: Matt Calvert (upper body), Logan O’Connor (lower body)

Suspended: Nazem Kadri

COVID-19 protocol: Jayson Megna

 
Status report

Janmark, a forward, and Lehner, a goalie, each will be a game-time decision. Janmark was injured on a hit by Graves in the second period in Game 1. … Reaves, a forward, will serve the first game of a two-game suspension from the NHL Department of Player Safety for roughing/unsportsmanlike conduct against Graves in the third period of Game 1. … Kadri will serve the fourth game of his eight-game suspension from the Department of Player Safety for an illegal check to the head of St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in the third period of Game 2 of the first round May 19. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman upheld the suspension Monday; the forward will have his appeal heard by an independent arbitrator Friday under the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement.

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