3 Takeaways From Avalanche’s 7-2 Win Over Predators in Game 1

The Colorado Avalanche didn’t need much time to put its foot down. The Avalanche scored a pair of goals 22 seconds apart early and scored five in the first period to set the tone for a 7-2 win over the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. Six different players scored for Colorado, and Nathan MacKinnon had two goals and an assist in the victory.

Related: Avalanche vs. Predators: 2022 First-Round Playoff Preview

Here are three takeaways from Colorado’s Game 1 victory:

MacKinnon Means Business

Few players were more disgusted with Colorado’s second-round exit last season than MacKinnon. The Avalanche star has been pointing to the playoffs all season, and he didn’t take long to leave his mark. He scored on his first shot of the game – netting a power-play goal just 2:20 into the first period – and the Avalanche were off and running.

Nathan MacKinnon Colorado Avalanche
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

MacKinnon then added a second goal in the third period, ripping a shot from the point for Colorado’s seventh goal of the game. It was his 30th career playoff goal. He ended up recording a point in every period, assisting on Gabriel Landeskog’s second-period goal, as well. He also piled up six shots on goal in the game, including four in the first period. It was his third consecutive game against the Predators where he had at least six shots on target.

MacKinnon’s season was a bit limited by COVID-19 and other minor injuries, but he still managed to score 32 goals and 88 points in 65 games. His 88 points were still second on the team, behind Mikko Rantanen’s 92. The start to the postseason was a familiar one, as MacKinnon rocked the St. Louis Blues in the first round of last year’s playoffs. He scored six goals and three assists in that four-game sweep of the Blues.

Move For Cogliano Pays Off

Andrew Cogliano came to the Avalanche on deadline day, arriving from the San Jose Sharks for a future fifth-round pick. He managed just one point in 18 games with the Avalanche this season, and that lone assist came 16 games ago. Avs coach Jared Bednar threw him in the mix on Tuesday, and he responded with a short-handed goal in Colorado’s first-period barrage.

Andrew Cogliano Colorado Avalanche
Andrew Cogliano, Colorado Avalanche (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The short-handed goal came at a crucial time too. After Colorado took the early two-goal lead, the Predators had a chance to get back into it with a power-play goal midway through the period. Cogliano nixed that idea, taking advantage of a bad turnover from Preds defenseman Mattias Ekholm, and knocked it in for a 3-0 lead. Nashville never recovered.

The Avalanche made four deals on deadline day, and another of those acquisitions scored on Tuesday, as well. Artturi Lehkonen came over from the Montreal Canadiens, and he scored the goal that capped off Colorado’s five-goal first period. Even though two of the first-period goals were unassisted, eight different players scored at least a point in the huge opening frame.

Good Return for Landeskog

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog hadn’t played since March 10, sitting out the last month and a half of the regular season after a knee injury against the Carolina Hurricanes. He didn’t start the game in his usual slot on the top line with MacKinnon and Rantanen, but those two assisted on his goal on one of their first shifts together. Landeskog ground his way to the second-period score, capitalizing on a scrum in front to get credit for Colorado’s sixth tally early in the second period. He also assisted on Lehkonen’s goal.

Gabriel Landeskog Colorado Avalanche
Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The goal was knocked in off the skate of a Predators defender, but Landeskog was the driving force behind the goal. The goal was the Avalanche’s sixth of the game, but it was an important one for the Avalanche captain. He was back in the fray and got involved right away, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him back on the top line for Game 2. However, if the Avalanche offense is going to hang seven goals with him on the second line with Nazem Kadri and Lehkonen, maybe Colorado will keep the lines the same.

Landeskog was cruising toward a career year before getting derailed by the injury. He scored 30 goals – the second-most in his career – despite playing in just 51 games. He also finished the regular season with 59 points, which is tied for his third-most in a single season. Colorado will look to replicate Tuesday’s stout performance in Game 2, which takes place on Thursday at Ball Arena in Denver.