The scoreline was lopsided in the Avalanche’s favor, but Jared Bednar knows better than to think their 7-1 Game 1 victory means smooth sailing to get the next three wins.
“It doesn’t matter if the score is 10-0, 10-9 or 2-1,” he said. “We got one win, and we’re at home to defend our home ice. It’s a race to four. That’s one, and it’s great, and we loved the way our team played and now our mission is to follow that up with a very similar game to the one we played.”
Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer is taking the same approach for his team. The blowout is one of those games you flush out of your system and reset. Colorado is only up 1-0 in the series, so this is not a time for overreaction or desperate moves.
“I thought the third, there were some moments where we started to play the way we’re capable of,” DeBoer said. “The score is the score, so obviously they’re taking their foot off the gas a little, so sometimes that’s not real, either. But it wasn’t all bad, as ridiculous as that sounds, when you look at the box score.”
The result of Game 1 can also be chucked up to rest vs. rust. Vegas had one day off after eliminating the Wild in Game 7 while Colorado had a week off to recuperate after sweeping the Blues.
[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 Second Round schedule, TV info]
Vegas has been able to rebound consistently following defeats. They’ve only lost consecutive games on four occasions this season — three of which came against the Wild, their First Round opponents, while the other was against Colorado back in February.
DeBoer knows about bouncing back from a lopsided loss. He was behind the Sharks’ bench in 2018 when San Jose dropped Game 1 of their Second Round series to the Golden Knights by a 7-0 scoreline. They responded by winning two of the next three games before falling in Game 6.
When coaches and players throw out the “take it one game at a time” cliché, this is one of those situation.
It snowballed quickly for Vegas in Game 1. The heat map shows lots and lots of red around the Golden Knights’ net, the possession was dominated by the Avalanche, and Vezina Trophy finalist Philipp Grubauer wasn’t tested as often as Vegas would like.
Tweaks to be made? Sure. Ryan Reaves‘ place in the lineup will need to be addressed after his two-game suspension. The only big change DeBoer will likely be making is going back to Marc-Andre Fleury in goal after starting Robin Lehner on Sunday.
The Golden Knights were only beat out by the Avalanche for the Presidents’ Trophy by a tiebreaker. They know Game 1 was an aberration and not a true measure of their collective ability. It slipped away and they paid for it. Wednesday night (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN) is a chance to get back into the series and head home to T-Mobile Arena with a series split.
“We looked at it and what didn’t work for us, and there were a lot of things that didn’t work for us,” said DeBoer. “As a group, we didn’t do enough things well enough for long enough in order to deserve to win. It’s pretty easy to recognize that. We got what we deserved. I know we’ll bounce back.”
AVALANCHE VS. GOLDEN KNIGHTS (COL leads 1-0) – series livestream link
Game 1: Avalanche 7, Golden Knights 1
Game 2: Wed. June 2: Golden Knights at Avalanche, 10 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 3: Fri. June 4: Avalanche at Golden Knights, 10 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 4: Sun. June 6: Avalanche at Golden Knights, 8:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
*Game 5: Tues. June 8: Golden Knights at Avalanche TBD
*Game 6: Thurs. June 10: Avalanche at Golden Knights TBD
*Game 7: Sat. June 12: Golden Knights at Avalanche TBD
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.