1. Rest wins, rust loses
The Avalanche benefited from dispatching St. Louis in four first-round games. The Knights’ bill for getting stretched to seven games by Minnesota came due Sunday night. This was adults vs. kids. This was fresh vs. tired. This was swift-skating vs. skating-in-cement. If there was any doubt the Avs’ rest (six off days), would hurt, it was erased … again and again and again. It was 2-0 less than 11 minutes into the game. It was 5-0 halfway at the midpoint. It was 6-1 after two periods. Credit Avs coach Jared Bednar, who leaned on the top line of Mikko Rantanen-Nathan MacKinnon-Gabe Landeskog to build the lead — each played at least 13 minutes and had a combined eight points through two periods.
2. Makar magic
Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar described his first-round play as “average.” He was likely chafed over his plus-1 rating against St. Louis. The high standard he sets for himself was met in the opening 21 minutes when he assisted on each of the Avalanche’s first three goals. Makar broke up a Vegas play in his zone that led to Rananten’s goal. He made an incredible cross-ice pass (tape-to-tape) on Landeskog’s first marker. And he started the play with a crisp pass to Valeri Nichushkin that led to Brandon Saad’s goal. If Makar, who scored a third-period goal, is playing this well in his zone and seeing the ice like it’s just him and four teammates in the offensive zone, the Avs will be tough to contain.
3. Reaves a disgrace
Vegas fourth-line winger Ryan Reaves shouldn’t have been eligible for Game 1 after his cheap-shot cross-check of Minnesota’s Ryan Suter into the goal-post on Friday. Well, we shouldn’t be seeing Reaves for a few games after he received a third-period match penalty/intent to injure against Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves (who delivered a hard check on Mattias Janmark in the second period). Like with Avalanche center Nazem Kadri in the St. Louis series, a match penalty means an automatic suspension until the league’s Dept. of Player Safety can decide on a ban. The Knights may be better off without Reaves because the puck finds his stick by accident.
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