The Colorado Avalanche will play the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Second Round.
“Whoever we play Sunday, we’re going to be ready to go,” Colorado forward Nathan MacKinnon said Friday. “We’re working really hard in practice, had two really good days. We’re excited to get going.”
Colorado, the No. 1 seed in the Honda West Division, swept the No. 4 seed St. Louis Blues in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Golden Knights, the No. 2 seed, defeated the No. 3 seed Wild 6-2 in Game 7 on Friday to win that best-of-7 series.
Game 1 of the second round is at Colorado on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).
“We got through St. Louis in four, we got some days off,” Colorado defenseman Devon Toews said. “We can’t really control when the next series is going to start or what’s going to happen or who we’re going to play, so right now I think we just try to control our rest and recovery and get ready for the next series.”
MacKinnon leads Colorado with nine points (six goals, three assists) this postseason. Gabriel Landeskog has scored eight points (two goals, six assists), and Mikko Rantanen has scored seven (one goal, six assists). Philipp Grubauer is 4-0 with a 1.75 goals-against average and .936 save percentage.
Colorado forward Nazem Kadri was suspended eight games for an illegal check to the head of St. Louis defenseman Justin Faulk in Game 2. He served the first two games of the suspension in Games 3 and 4 and had a hearing for his appeal on Thursday.
“It takes a team to win,” Toews said. “It doesn’t matter what line scores or what night or what line’s going, it takes everyone to win games, not just your top lines, you need everyone, so that’s why you’re seeing the defense kind of contribute and other guys [who] contributed in the regular season you don’t think you want to talk about, but it matters in playoffs.”
The Avalanche were 4-3-1 against the Golden Knights in the regular season. MacKinnon scored six points (two goals, four assists) to lead Colorado, and Toews scored three goals. Grubauer was 4-2-1 with a 1.86 GAA and .935 save percentage, and Devan Dubnyk allowed four goals on 25 shots in a 5-2 loss April 28 in his only game with Colorado against Vegas.
Max Pacioretty led Vegas with eight points (six goals, two assists) against Colorado; the forward played in Game 7 after being out since since May 1 with an undisclosed injury. Alex Tuch and Jonathan Marchessault each scored three goals. Marc-Andre Fleury was 4-3-0 with a 2.14 GAA and .932 save percentage, and Robin Lehner allowed two goals on 21 shots in a 2-1 loss May 10.
“I think we’ve gone a lot this year where we’ve held teams to that 15-23 range of shots,” Toews said. “That’s not a lot to give up, it’s one of our goals every night to limit the amount of shots and limit them to the outside. It’s a five-man group defending, it can’t just be the [defensemen] defending down low and breaking up rushes with our backcheck and making sure we have the puck and possession as well. It’s just a whole team community we have down low in our zone in order to go get the puck and go play offense.”
The Avalanche and Golden Knights have never played a postseason series. The full second round schedule has not been announced.
“I think it’s good to watch, we’re going to play either of those teams,” Avalanche forward Andre Burakovsky said this week. “It’s good to see what kind of style they’re playing now that it’s playoffs, where you can expose them, where I can find some kind of success against both those teams. I’m not really a huge fan of watching hockey during the regular season, but in playoffs it’s a lot of fun to watch.”
NHL.com staff writer Mike G. Morreale and independent correspondent Rick Sadowski contributed to this report