The Vegas Golden Knights returned to a full barn at T-Mobile Arena and gave the fans a thrilling 3-2 victory in Game 3 to get back into the series. Now we’ve truly got a series between the Colorado Avalanche and the Golden Knights. Game 4 is a huge one to say the least on Sunday with a 5:30 p.m. PT start time, so 8:30 for the East Coast crowd.
Game 3 was one of the best games of the season. Let’s hope for the same in Game 4 to round out an excellent sports weekend. Vegas is the -115 favorite with a total of 5.5 at Bookmaker Sportsbook.
One of the keys for Colorado this postseason has been the play of the star players. Nathan MacKinnon leads all players in goals with eight. He’s second in points and linemate Gabriel Landeskog is fourth. Mikko Rantanen is among those tied for fifth. Standout young defenseman Cole Makar has nine points in seven games. The top guys have contributed a lot.
That didn’t stop Colorado head coach Jared Bednar from calling out his top line in the post-game press conference following Game 3. He criticized their effort and talked about how they were shut down on the scoresheet and also in the advanced metrics. It was a big shot across the bow, given that Landeskog, Rantanen, and MacKinnon have scored for 12 of Colorado’s 35 points in the series.
On the other hand, Colorado’s 5-v-5 play has not been very good in the last two games against Vegas. Those stars may have 12 points, but only four goals and one assist at even strength. Colorado’s deadly power play has been the difference in the playoffs and also in this series, including the game-winning goal in Game 2, otherwise we could be looking at a very different series.
Philipp Grubauer has been terrific and the least of Bednar’s worries to this point. He’s only allowed six goals in three games and ranks second in GAA, first among goalies still playing, and tops in SV% at .941 in these playoffs.
Vegas Golden Knights
The Golden Knights couldn’t keep the Avalanche power play off the board in Game 3, but scored two even-strength goals in the span of 45 seconds in the third period to take a 3-2 lead and come away with a massive Game 3 win. T-Mobile Arena was as loud as it has maybe ever been as the Golden Knights got the Max Pacioretty goal and then celebrated the win.
Vegas won the box score in dramatic fashion at 5-v-5 in Game 3. They had 39 scoring chances to just 18 for Colorado. Vegas outshot Colorado 38-15 in that game state and had 15 high-danger chances to just four for the Avs. Bednar had a legitimate bone to pick with his team and his top line especially. It was an inexcusably bad performance and Vegas found ways to get to the middle of the ice and get better chances.
Over the last two games, the Expected Goals For for Vegas at 5-v-5 is 5.78 and just 1.98 for Colorado. This has been a very one-sided series at 5-v-5 in the last two games and Game 1 was actually pretty even across the board. It was just that Colorado took advantage of a rusty Robin Lehner to have a seven-goal explosion. The Vegas team was also coming off of a tough Game 7 against Minnesota.
Now that the Golden Knights have gotten their legs and put Marc-Andre Fleury back in net, it has been a different series to say the least.
Avalanche vs. Golden Knights Free Pick
Vegas has made the necessary adjustments in this series. They’ve owned both box scores at 5-v-5 in the last two games. The biggest thing is attempting to keep Colorado’s power play off the ice. Vegas was only shorthanded twice in Game 3, as the game was not called as tightly as some of the others. A similar kind of officiating would bode well for Vegas in Game 4. Similar play would as well. Given how the last two games have gone, they should get the job done here.
Pick: Vegas Golden Knights