Avalanche-Kraken Game 4 Quick Hits: Mikko Rantanen’s big night


Instant reaction from the Avalanche’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Seattle Kraken in Game 4 of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series.

Georgiev’s strong night ends in tough fashion: Seattle put two past Alexandar Georgiev during its first-period onslaught, but even then the Bulgarian kept the hosts from pulling even further ahead as he got peppered by 18 shots in the first 20 minutes. Once Colorado wrangled the Kraken in, Georgiev settled in.

He stopped 37 of 39 shots in regulation and turned in some of the best work of his postseason so far, including a Jaden Schwartz runout in overtime. Schwartz drew a penalty, though, and Jordan Eberle cashed in the winner not long after following a scramble that saw Cale Makar go down to a knee and perhaps inadvertently screen Georgiev’s vision.

Georgiev is handling the primary goaltending duties for the first time in his career after backing up Igor Shesterkin the past four years for the New York Rangers. He stopped 28 of 30 over the first two periods — all 12 in the second, another busy stretch of work — and dealt with traffic and pile-ups around the crease the entire night. Midway through the third period, one of those crowds around his net resulted in the puck dribbling across the line, but the officials ruled Georgiev had covered the puck when they blew the play dead, preventing a Seattle goal.

The Pacific Northwest is “Moose” territory: Through the opening 34 minutes, 8 seconds of play Monday night, Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon combined for exactly zero shots on Seattle goaltender Philipp Grubauer. The Avalanches’ star forward duo, split on Jared Bednar’s line chart since Game 2 but playing together on-and-off depending on the situation, dominated the final 4:52 of the second period. MacKinnon sparked a three-on-two with a takeaway that led to a Rantanen goal, halving the Kraken’s lead on his first shot of the game. Then Rantanen drew a penalty, won a faceoff (a rarity for Colorado early on) to initiate the power play and buried the equalizer on a wrister from the right circle. Rantanen, who scored 55 goals in the regular season, has five already through the first four games against Seattle and four in the past two games.

Acrimonious Kraken: Seattle came out skating mad even before Cale Makar put a vicious hit on Jared McCann along the glass after a shorthanded breakaway chance. Makar was initially not charged with a penalty, then assessed a major, which was then downgraded to a minor. McCann took a couple of minutes before he was able to get up — Makar’s arm extended on the hit and drove McCann’s head into the glass as the puck flew out of play — but his team responded as he made his way to the dressing room. The Kraken, feisty and physical all series, turned the acrimony dial up to the most intense level so far and promptly doubled their lead to 2-0 on a Daniel Sprong power play blast past Alexandar Georgiev’s glove. Really, it was just a continuation of a dominant start for Seattle, which has scored first in all four games this series and tallied the first two in Games 2 and 4.

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