In the series that features the top two teams in the NHL according to regular-season success, it should be no surprise the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche are knotted up at two wins each. The home team has been victorious in each matchup, as now the series moves back to Denver for a pivotal Game 5.
Here is a closer look at the series so far, some of the key players to watch, as well as a free betting pick. Colorado, back at home for Game 5, is a -154 favorite, while Vegas is +130 on the road.
After sweeping through the first round, the Avalanche broke Game 1 wide open. Led by multi-goal nights from center Nathan MacKinnon and left wing Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado destroyed Vegas 7-1. In addition to the heavily lopsided score, the series opener was also notable for the 74 combined penalty minutes between the teams.
Game 2 was much closer all around, as the teams needed to go to overtime to decide a winner. But after about two minutes into OT, right wing Mikko Rantanen scored his second goal of the series to lift Colorado to a 3-2 victory. Despite Vegas’ 41-25 shot advantage, goalie Philipp Grubauer earned the first star of the game, making 39 saves in his sixth win of the postseason.
With the series shifting back to their home arena and facing a near must-win, the Golden Knights responded in Game 3. Down 2-1 heading into the final six minutes, left wing Jonathan Marchessault tied the game before left wing Max Pacioretty scored the eventual game-winner 45 seconds later to give the Knights the 3-2 win. Vegas dominated the shot totals once again with a 43-20 advantage.
Then in Game 4, Vegas put together their most dominant performance yet. Headlined by a hat trick from Marchessault, the Golden Knights stomped the Avs 5-1 to tie the series up. Vegas held Colorado to just 18 shots while putting up 35 of their own, the third-straight game where they outshot the Avs by 15 or more.
Center William Karlsson is coming off of a three-assist game, his best performance of the postseason, giving him a team-high nine points. Marchessault and Stone are next up with seven points; however, Stone has gone six games without scoring a goal and has just two points this series.
The Avs are led by their top line, as MacKinnon paves the way with a team-leading eight goals and 13 points. Landeskog and Rantanen each have 12 and 11 points, respectively, as Rantanen’s nine-game point streak that started in the regular season finally came to an end on Sunday.
As mentioned above, Vegas’ shot totals over the last three games have slowly started to wear Colorado down. The Knights have outshot the Avs 119-63 over the last three games, close to doubling their opponent. They will need all the shots they can against Grubauer, who lost just five games at home all season and had a 1.60 GAA in 24 home starts.
The Avs once looked to be a dominant, unbeatable team, but that no longer appears to be the case. The Golden Knights have clearly figured something out the last couple of games and have either won or barely lost with Marc-Andre Fleury in net this series, unlike Game 1 with Robin Lehner.
While they’re not massive underdogs on the betting line, Vegas still does have plenty of value as the team that has been better in each of the last three games. I’m going with the upset and picking the Knights to take their first lead of the series.
Pick: Golden Knights +130
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