The Colorado Avalanche took to the ice against the Edmonton Oilers for Game 4 of the Western Conference Final Monday night at Rogers Place in Edmonton, looking to complete the club’s second series sweep of the postseason. In a hard-fought, see-saw battle, they prevailed with an overtime goal off the stick of Artturi Lehkonen to secure the 6-5 win and book their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2001. Lehkonen had three points on the night.
Here’s a look at the game, and the series, by the numbers.
5 Points, 9 Points, and 22 Points for Makar
After an explosive opening round against the Nashville Predators, scoring 10 points in four games, Cale Makar cooled off in the second-round series against the St. Louis Blues, tallying only three points in six games. The 23-year-old defenseman found his stride again against the Oilers, scoring nine points in the four games, five of them coming in Game 4. His 22 points so far this postseason leads all Avalanche players.
Makar became the first defenseman in NHL history to notch five points in a Conference Final clinching game. He was dominant at both ends of the ice in Game 4 against the Oilers, as he once again led all skaters, on both teams, with 29:03 time-on-ice (TOI).
Avalanche Blocked 21 Shots in Game 4
Colorado blocked 21 shots in Game 4, the most by any of the four teams in the Conference Finals. The Avalanche are averaging 14.7 blocked shots per game in the playoffs.
Blocking shots has been a team effort, with Colorado players repeatedly giving up their bodies to take center ice away from opposing clubs. 12 different members of the Avalanche had at least one blocked shot in the contest. Andre Burakovsky, who missed two games after an injury on a blocked shot in Game 1, had two more blocks last night. Andrew Cogliano also injured his hand when blocking a shot late in Game 4.
Makar, to add to his already impressive stat line, leads the Avalanche this postseason with 32 blocked shots, 10 more than his nearest teammate, Erik Johnson. That’s good enough for seventh-best in the league. Jacob Trouba of the New York Rangers leads all players with 43 blocked shots.
Draisaitl’s 25 Minutes and 21 Seconds of Pure Grit
Oilers superstar forward Leon Draisaitl was in obvious distress throughout the entire game. The native of Cologne, Germany suffered a high ankle sprain in the opening-round series against the Los Angeles Kings and has been playing through the injury ever since.
“There’s a lot of guys that go through painful things like that,” Draisaitl said with modesty and humility in a post-game interview, “so, I’m not going to make this about myself.”
The 26-year-old, who tallied 110 points in the regular season (fifth-best in the NHL), and a total of 32 points in the playoffs (second in the league, trailing only his teammate Connor McDavid), went down to the ice repeatedly in the contest and was slow to get up each time. Yet, he managed to be a major player anyway, as he had 25:21 TOI and four assists in the contest, making him the leading scorer on the night for the Oilers. It was a gutty, gritty performance that should earn the respect of fans everywhere.
16 Avalanche Players with Points
Team depth was a big contributing factor to the Avalanche’s sweep of the Oilers. 16 of the 20 players who started at least one game for Colorado in the series had at least one point, and 10 of those players had more than one.
The depth of the club is a credit to Colorado’s executive vice president and general manager, Joe Sakic. His offseason moves, notably signing Darcy Kuemper and Jack Johnson, and his trades at the deadline, acquiring Lehkonen and defenseman Josh Manson, have paid dividends this postseason. Manson and Lehkonen in particular have been key players for Colorado throughout the playoffs.
5.5 Goals per Game, and 43 Shots-on-Goal for Colorado
The Avalanche have been one of the most dominant offensive teams throughout the playoffs. The club is averaging a league-leading 4.6 goals per game (GPG), and 40.7 shots-on-goal (SOG) in the 14 games played to date. They were especially dominant in the Western Conference Final, averaging 5.5 GPG and 43 SOG against the Oilers.
The Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning, the two remaining teams in the Eastern Conference, have been two of the stingier teams this postseason. The Rangers have allowed only 2.88 GPG, fourth-best in the playoffs, and the Lightning have allowed only 2.71 GPG, which is second only to the Dallas Stars. Either team will be a very tough out for Colorado.
Each team sports a world-class goaltender too, as Igor Shesterkin of the Rangers is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the season’s best goaltender, and Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Lightning is widely considered the best goalie of his generation.
2 Avalanche Losses
The Avalanche enter the Stanley Cup Final having lost only two of the 14 games they’ve played this postseason. That’s tied for the fewest losses through the Conference Finals in the last 30 years. The last team to enter the Stanley Cup Final with only two losses was the Kings a decade ago, and they went on to win the Cup, defeating the New Jersey Devils in six games.
Up Next for the Avalanche
The Avalanche will get a chance to rest, recover, and await the winner of the Eastern Conference Final series between the Rangers and Lightning. The Rangers hold a 2-1 series lead as the two teams prepare for Game 4 at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Tuesday night.
With the Florida Panthers, winners of the Presidents’ Trophy for the best regular-season record, eliminated in the second round of the playoffs, the Avalanche, who had the second-best record in the regular season, will have home ice in the final round, regardless of who their opponent turns out to be. The schedule for the final round has yet to be set.
Hockey dad, beer league hockey captain, rabid Avalanche fan. Author of five novels for young adults, including The Scar Boys, Life in a Fishbowl, and Hard Wired. Lives in Littleton, Colorado with two middle school-age kids, one awesome wife, and three pets. Voted least likely to break 100 on a golf course.