On Saturday afternoon, the Colorado Avalanche hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins and the game was everything fans could ask for.
With the NHL postseason imminent, these two teams demonstrated exactly what hockey should look like in the playoffs. Both teams are firmly in the playoffs picture and if they play like they did on Saturday, it could be a preview of the Stanley Cup Finals
The pace of the game was fast from start to finish. Pittsburgh and Colorado combined 28 shots in the first half (17 for the Penguins) and the final tally was 40-38 in favor of the Pens.
Back and forth play throughout the match forced both goalkeepers to be upside down for nearly 60 minutes. Darcy Kuemper stopped 38 of his shots, including all 17 in the first period, to keep the game scoreless after 20 minutes.
On the other hand, Tristan Jarry was the strongest in the closing stages of the game with 14 shots and some crucial saves to give his team a chance to stay in the game.
The Avalanche and Penguins gave us a show on Saturday.
As mentioned above, no goals were scored in the first round, so the ice was broken by Mikko Rantanen in the second half. The Avalanche forward hit a rebound over Jarry’s shoulder midway through the half.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby later responded in the frame with his 26th goal of the season. One of the stories of the game, however, was Colorado’s reaction after Pittsburgh scored.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel gave the Avalanche a new one-goal lead just 20 seconds after Crosby leveled the game. Then Colorado gave everyone deja vu in the third period when, after Mike Matheson leveled the game at two, Devon Toews buried a rebound to retake the lead and eventually win the game.
Both teams raced all over the ice for 60 minutes, with goaltenders stealing the show at times. The game was also very clean as only one penalty was committed in total.
With a masterful combination of offense, defense and overall elite hockey in a game that could have been won by either team, this competition lacked nothing.
The Avalanche and Penguins will do it again Tuesday, this time in Pittsburgh when the clubs meet at PPG Paints Arena.