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Colorado had speed and youth. Nashville brought experience and know-how.

 

It was plain to see which won out – this time.

Mattias Ekholm ignited the offense early with the first goal by a Nashville defenseman in the series Mike Gesicki Jersey , Pekka Rinne stopped 22 shots and the top-seeded Predators advanced to the second round with a 5-0 victory over the Avalanche in Game 6 on Sunday night.

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Austin Watson , Filip Forsberg , Nick Bonino and Viktor Arvidsson also scored to help the Predators move on to face Winnipeg. They were 3-1-1 against the Jets in the regular season.

”I’m very impressed the way (the Avalanche) played. They played very modern hockey, with a lot of speed,” said Rinne, who notched his fourth career postseason shutout as the Predators won the series 4-2. ”Great game. Great team effort. We didn’t give them any life.”

Nashville removed any sort of drama with two goals in the opening period and two more in the second to hush the capacity crowd. That’s the sort of game plan the Predators envisioned.

”I think that was our best game from start to finish,” Watson said. ”That’s good for us going forward, to be able to take the last game of this series and carry that into how we want to play in the next one.”

Andrew Hammond ran out of magic in net, allowing five goals. The third-string goaltender nicknamed ”Hamburglar” had 44 saves during a Game 5 win in Nashville to extend the series. But he couldn’t turn back a formidable Nashville offense that won a second straight playoff contest in Denver. Before this, the Avalanche hadn’t lost two straight at the Pepsi Center since early December.

”It’s disappointing to us and I’m sure it’s disappointing to fans,” Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said. ”It means a lot to us that they did give us a standing ovation at the end.”

Watson tormented Colorado with four goals and seven points in the series. In all Marcedes Lewis Packers Jersey , 11 of Nashville’s forwards had at least a point over six games.

The one thing missing was contributions from a blue line that tied a franchise record for goals during the regular season. The Predators `D’ was held scoreless until Ekholm’s slap shot at 7:20.

Forsberg scored 38 seconds into second to give Nashville a 3-0 lead and completely drain the energy out of the arena. Bonino added another to go with his two assists.

The closest Colorado came to scoring on Rinne was in the second period, when Nikita Zadorov sent in a shot, but it was waved off due to goaltender interference on Carl Soderberg.

”Every line that went out there took a lot of pride in playing good defense, even at the end with the game 5-0. We still protected the net,” Rinne said. ”Guys wanted to get me that shutout.”

It was quite a bounce-back season for Colorado, which boasts one of the youngest teams in the league. The Avalanche went from a 48-point team in 2016-17 to 95 points this season, earning the last playoff spot on the final day of the regular season. The Avs are the first NHL team to post that sort of turnaround from one full season to the next since Pittsburgh also jumped 47 points in 2005-06 (58) to `06-07 (105).

”There are a lot of positives for sure,” said Nathan MacKinnon, who was held to one shot Sunday. ”Everybody thought we weren’t going to make it, that we were going to be the odd-team-out in the West. Obviously, it’s nice to prove some people wrong and have a good young team going forward.”

In the handshake line after the game Roquan Smith Jersey , Nashville coach Peter Laviolette had some encouraging words for MacKinnon.

”He thought our team was up-and-coming, similar to their team,” MacKinnon recounted. ”Definitely, it’s a good team to be compared to.”

Colorado ran into a Predators squad that looked every bit like the team that went to the Stanley Cup Final a season ago and won the Presidents’ Trophy this season. They’re clicking on all cylinders heading into the Winnipeg series.

”These guys have been flying around for six games, playing really fast hockey,” Forsberg said. ”We’ve been trying to play as fast as we can as well. If we can bring that speed into the next round that will be good.”

NOTES: The Predators improved to 6-6 all-time in a Game 6 situation. … F Colton Sissons had two assists. … RW Ryan Hartman was a scratch after being suspended for Game 5 for a hit on Soderberg. … D P.K. Subban had high praise for MacKinnon: ”My expectations for him as a player is to be a Hall of Famer by the end of his career.”

 

LAS VEGAS — With a surprising run to the Pacific Division title, the expansion Vegas Golden Knights were the feel-good story of the regular season in the National Hockey League.

Now the question is can they continue their storybook season in the Stanley Cup Playoffs? The Golden Knights (51-24-7) host the Los Angeles Kings (45-29-8) in the first game of their best-of-seven first round series on Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena.

Vegas will be playing a veteran Kings squad that has held up the hardware twice over the last seven seasons. But the Golden Knights have a goalie in Marc-Andre Fleury (29-13-4, 2.24 goals against average) who was a key performer on three Stanley Cup champions in Pittsburgh, including each of the last two seasons, and have other veterans like forward James Neal who made it to the finals last year with Nashville.

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Both will be counted on to provide the kind of leadership that will be necessary to advance in the playoffs.

“It’s more intense,” Fleury said of playoff hockey. “Every little play matters. Every win matters. I think it makes the stakes higher. … It’s fun hockey. Fun to watch.”

“Real excited Brian O'Neill Vikings Jersey ,” Neal, who had 25 goals, said. “We’ve worked all year to put ourselves in this position, especially with home ice advantage. I think this city and this rink is going to be pretty crazy.”

Vegas finished 29-10-2 at home, where it sold out every contest. But it will be playing a Los Angeles team that split the season series and won both ends of a key back-to-back against the Golden Knights in late February, winning 3-2 in overtime at the Staples Center on a Dustin Brown power-play goal after Anze Kopitar tied it with 10.8 seconds remaining, and then coming back the next night at T-Mobile Arena for a convincing 4-1 victory.

“I don’t even remember that,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty told reporters. “That’s a long time ago already. I know we’re not thinking about those two games. We’re just thinking about the opportunity in front of us, and I know they’re not thinking about it either. Really has no impact on this series. It’s a whole new series.”

The Golden Knights, who finished fifth in the NHL in scoring with an average of 3.3 goals per game, have five players with 20 or more goals Carlton Davis Jersey , led by center William Karlsson’s 43, and will be playing a physical, hard-checking Kings’ team that ranked No. 1 in goals against (2.46) and penalty kill (85.0 percent) and has a goalie in Jonathan Quick (33-28-3, 2.40 GAA) who also has been the backbone of two Stanley Cup champions.

“It’s about playing fast,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant, who has rotated four lines all season, said. “We’ve talked about that all year long. When you play fast and you forecheck well, you’re going to get turnovers. People turn over the puck. … You have to force them to turn over the puck. If you give good players time to make plays, they’re going to make them. When we play fast and we play quick, we’re a good team and we get a lot of turnovers.”

“They’ve been probably the fastest team all year, and teams have had a hard time handling that speed Lamar Jackson Youth Jersey ,” Brown, who has 28 goals, said. “We’ve got to find a way to limit their speed game. I think a lot of it comes from turnovers. They’re really quick in transition.”

Another big key: just how much do the Golden Knights have left in the tank after their emotional roller-coaster ride of a season? Vegas, which was an eye-popping 27-9-2 on Jan. 2, sputtered down the stretch, going just 10-8-3 including an 8-3 home loss to New Jersey and also a 7-1 season-ending clunker at Calgary, a game that Fleury was pulled from after stopping just 12 of the 18 shots he faced.

Doughty believes it comes down to “all the little things” to winning in the playoffs.

“Blocking shots, throwing pucks at the net,” Doughty said. “(There are) a lot of crappy goals that go in during the playoffs. That’s just how it is.”

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