Game 1 was one that saw the high-powered Colorado Avalanche feast 7-1 on a Vegas Golden Knights that struggled to get any offensive production.
Sunday night also saw the Golden Knights start Robin Lehner instead of Marc-André Fleury in goal, in a move that raised more than few eyebrows and would also be the first playoff start for Lehner in this postseason.
Mikko Rantanen extended his playoff point streak to 15 games with a goal at the 4:55 mark of the first period. Gabriel Landeskog would chip in with his third goal of the postseason to extend the lead to 2-0 at the 10:13 mark of the period but the Avalanche would be far from finished.
The top seed in the division would explode for a four-goal second period as Brandon Saad would score at the 1:04 mark of the period and Nathan McKinnon would make it 4-0 at 4:03. Landeskog would complete the hat trick at the 14:23 mark, redirecting a pass from Rantanen past Lehner to make it a 5-0 game.
William Karlsson would offer the only reply for the Golden Knights to briefly cut the lead to 5-1 at 14:59 but before the end of the period, Nathan McKinnon would put home his second of the night at 17:05. If Game 1 was the dream start for the Avalanche, it would prove to be the biggest nightmare of a series start for the Golden Knights as very little went right for them in Denver.
Frustrations would completely boil over for Vegas as it would be a wave of players headed to the penalty box for the visitors but the biggest story involved Ryan Reaves. Reaves, after a controversial hit on Minnesota’s Ryan Suter on Saturday, would be the story once again for getting a match penalty for intent to injure that began a line brawl that would see Cale Makar score on a nine-minute powerplay at 15:49 of the period.
The last time a team had a nine minute man advantage in the NHL came in a game on December 9th, 2009 for the Washington Capitals against the Philadelphia Flyers. In that situation, Daniel Carcillo would be assed 19 minutes in penalties along with a game misconduct after an incident with Washington’s Matt Bradley.
The Ryan Reaves match penalty now means that he’ll be suspended pending a hearing with the league. The question will now be how long will the Vegas enforcer be out of the lineup after tonight’s incident. Reeves has been suspended twice before by the NHL with his last suspension being for one game during the 2020 playoffs for an illegal hit to the head of Vancouver’s Tyler Motte.
Game 2 of the series is on Wednesday and we’ll have to see what the call will be for Vegas when it comes to who gets the start in net and if we see a return of Marc-André Fleury.