NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Sven Andrighetto scored with 1:28 left to give the Colorado Avalanche a 2-1 victory over Nashville Predators 2-1 on Friday night, sending the first-round series back to Denver for Game 6.
This is the third time the Avalanche had trailed 3-1 in a series since the franchise relocated to Colorado. They lost the first two, but will have a chance Sunday to push this series to a seventh game after rallying with two goals in the final 4:11.
Gabriel Landeskog started the rally with his goal into an empty net with Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne caught outside the crease with his own teammate Ryan Ellis in his lap. Then Andrighetto gave the Avs the lead off a rebound of a shot by J.T. Compher that stunned a sold-out Nashville crowd that had expected to celebrate advancing to the second round.
Andrew Hammond made a career-high 44 saves for his first postseason victory in his first playoff start since April 17, 2015, with Ottawa and just the third of his career.
”It’s one of those things I’ve learned in my career: You never know when you’re going to get a second chance,” Hammond said. ”I’ve played two games basically since the start of January – at times it felt as though that day would never come again when you’re going to play again. You keep battling in practice, you stick to the process, when you get your chance, you’re ready.”
The series winner will face Winnipeg in the second round.
Nick Bonino scored for Nashville.
This game was scoreless until Bonino’s goal with 9:42 left, a big change for a series that had been the highest-scoring of the first round averaging 7.25 goals per game coming into Game 5. But the goalie nicknamed the ”Hamburglar” came through with a dazzling performance for his first postseason victory.
The Predators peppered the Avs’ backup to their backup goalie. The only time Nashville beat Hammond was when Mattias Ekholm’s shot bounced off his left pad and went in off Bonino’s right skate. The official on the spot immediately waved it off. Officials huddled, then reviewed the play.
During the review, fans sang ”Let It Be” while holding up their cellphones with the flash on. Referee Kevin Pollack announced the call on the ice had been overturned, starting a long-awaited celebration.
The lead didn’t last long as Landeskog tapped the puck into an open net off a feed from Nathan MacKinnon.
The Avalanche came into the postseason with goalie Semyon Varlamov and defenseman Erik Johnson sidelined by knee injuries, then defenseman Samuel Girard missed three games with his own upper-body injury before Jonathan Bernier, Varlamov’s backup, suffered his own lower-body injury. That pushed the Hamburglar into the net.
Nashville countered with its usual catfish on the ice before the puck dropped and the members of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans secondary waving the rally towel for fans.
The Predators started and ended the second period on the power play but couldn’t beat Hammond. Their best scoring chance came with a 4 on 2, but Hammond stopped Roman Josi’s shot and then handled Calle Jarnkrok’s attempt off the rebound at 12:36. Hammond also made a big pad save on Ellis’ slap shot and then stopped another Josi shot late in the period.
NOTES: The Avalanche snapped a seven-game skid in Nashville with the win. They ended a 12-game skid to the Preds overall in Game 3. … Nashville had been perfect last postseason with a chance to clinch a series on its own ice, winning all three series to reach the Stanley Cup Final.
Game 6 in Denver on Sunday.
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