Rantanen scores OT winner, Avs up 2-0 in series vs. Knights

Golden Knights

DENVER (AP) — Mikko Rantanen scored a power-play goal 2:07 into overtime, Philipp Grubauer outdueled fellow Vezina Trophy finalist Marc-Andre Fleury and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their second-round playoff series.

Rantanen took a cross-ice pass from Nathan MacKinnon and sent a liner over the glove of Fleury. The goal came with Reilly Smith in the penalty box for slashing Rantanen.

Brandon Saad and Tyson Jost also scored for the Avalanche, who’ve won six in a row to start the postseason, tying the franchise mark set in 1987 when the team was based in Quebec.

Grubauer had 39 saves in becoming the first Colorado/Quebec goaltender to pick up six straight postseason victories.

Alec Martinez and Smith had goals for the Golden Knights, who controlled large portions of the action after two full days off following a 7-1 loss in Game 1. A fresh Fleury provided a big boost. He didn’t play in the series opener following a grueling seven-game series with Minnesota. Fleury stopped 22 shots.

The series heads to Vegas for Game 3 on Friday.

This was more like the tight series that everyone was expecting. The Avs and Golden Knights split the eight games in the regular season and finished tied for the most points in the league. The Avalanche earned the Presidents’ Trophy — along with home ice throughout the postseason — on a tiebreaker.

Vegas vowed to bounce back from the penalty-filled first game, with William Karlsson commenting after the morning skate: “The sun is shining today.”

The Golden Knights clanged three shots off the post in the third period.

Colorado finished 2 for 6 on the power play and was outshot by a 41-25 margin. The top line of MacKinnon, captain Gabriel Landeskog and Rantanen was held in check — until overtime. The trio combined for five goals and three assists in Game 1.

Vegas defenseman Shea Theodore had two assists — and a spectacular play on a breakaway from Rantanen late in the third. Theodore was able to disrupt the play at the last moment.

Colorado remains tough to beat at home, winning its 13th straight at Ball Arena dating to the regular season.

Smith tied the game at 2-all when he broke free and lifted a backhanded shot past Grubauer.

Jost gave the Avalanche a 2-1 lead in the first with a power-play goal. His score was after Vegas tied the game on a power-play score from Martinez. It marked the first time in this postseason the Avs have surrendered a goal in the opening period.

Saad started the scoring at 3:39 of the first when he barely got anything on a wide-open shot but the slow roller caught Fleury by surprise and the puck trickled between the veteran goaltender’s pads.

Saad extended his goal streak to five games, which is tied for the third-longest string in Avalanche history for a playoff year. The record is seven straight by Claude Lemieux (1997) and Joe Sakic (’96).

AROUND THE RINK

Colorado is 14-1 in a best-of-seven playoff series when winning the first two games since relocating to Denver in 1995-96. … Avs D Samuel Girard had two assists.

SUSPENDED

Vegas F Ryan Reaves served the first of a two-game suspension for his roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct on Colorado D Ryan Graves in Game 1. … Colorado F Nazem Kadri sat out his fourth of an eight-game suspension he received in the first round.

SCRATCHED

Vegas F Mattias Janmark and G Robin Lehner, the Game 1 starter, were scratched. Janmark was banged up on a check near the boards from Graves in the series opener. G Logan Thompson was recalled and served as the backup to Fleury.

This post will be updated throughout the game

PREGAME: Marc-Andre Fleury in net for Golden Knights. Logan Thompson is the backup goalie for the Knights. Robin Lehner and Mattias Janmark out of the lineup tonight.

FIRST PERIOD: Avalanche goal: Brandon Saad (5) (Wrist shot), Assist: Samuel Girard (4), Ryan Graves (5). AVALANCHE 1, KNIGHTS 0.

Knights power play goal Alec Martinez (2) (Snap shot), Assists: Max Pacioretty (2) and Shea Theodore (3). KNIGHTS 1, AVALANCHE 1.

Avalanche power play goal Tyson Jost (2) (Snap shot), Assists: Samuel Girard (5) and Devon Toews (4). AVALANCHE 2, KNIGHTS 1. Shots on goal: Avalanche 11, Knights 9.

SECOND PERIOD: Knights goal Reilly Smith (2) (Backhand shot), Assists: Jonathan Marchessault (2) and Shea Theodore. KNIGHTS 2, AVALANCHE 2. Shots on goal: Knights 24, Avalanche 17.

THIRD PERIOD: No goals. Shots on goal: Knights 40, Avs 23.

OVERTIME: Avs score on power play: Mikko Rantanen (3) (Wrist shot), Assists: Cale Makar (6) and Nathan MacKinnon (5). AVALANCE 3, KNIGHTS 2 IN OVERTIME. Shots on goal: Knights 41, Avs 25.

This is the pregame story

Vegas Golden Knights (40-14-2, second in the West Division during the regular season) vs. Colorado Avalanche (39-13-4, first in the West Division during the regular season) Avalanche lead best-of-seven series 1-0.

Denver; Wednesday, 7 p.m. PDT

NHL PLAYOFFS SECOND ROUND: Avalanche lead series 1-0

BOTTOM LINE: The Colorado Avalanche host the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round of the NHL Playoffs with a 1-0 lead in the series. The teams meet Wednesday for the 10th time this season. The Avalanche won the last meeting 7-1. Gabriel Landeskog scored a team-high two goals for the Avalanche in the victory.

The Avalanche are 39-13-4 in division play. Colorado leads the NHL averaging 3.5 goals per game, led by Mikko Rantanen with 30.

The Golden Knights are 40-14-2 in division games. Vegas is fourth in the league recording 9.2 points per game, averaging 3.4 goals and 5.8 assists.

TOP PERFORMERS: Rantanen leads the Avalanche with a plus-30 in 52 games this season. Nathan MacKinnon has eight goals and four assists over the last 10 games for Colorado.

Mark Stone has 61 total points while scoring 21 goals and totaling 40 assists for the Golden Knights. Mattias Janmark has three goals and four assists over the last 10 games for Vegas.

DURING THE PLAYOFFS: Avalanche: Averaging 5.4 goals, 9.0 assists, 3.6 penalties and 12.6 penalty minutes while giving up 1.6 goals per game with a .941 save percentage.

Golden Knights: Averaging 2.6 goals, 4.4 assists, 3.2 penalties and 10.1 penalty minutes while giving up 2.5 goals per game with a .905 save percentage.

INJURIES: Avalanche: Jacob MacDonald: out (lower body), Bowen Byram: out (upper body), Matt Calvert: out (undisclosed), Dennis Gilbert: out (face).

Golden Knights: Peyton Krebs: out (upper body), Brayden McNabb: day to day (health protocols), Tomas Nosek: day to day (undisclosed), Ryan Reaves (suspension).

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