Cole Makar scores in OT, Avalanche beat Predators in Race 2

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Cale Makar sent a low line in traffic and then quickly found himself surrounded by happy teammates.

Perhaps the happiest of all things on the other side. After all, it was goalkeeper Darcy Kuemper’s 32nd birthday. The goal was a nice gift.

Makar scored 8:31 in extra time, Kuemper made 25 saves and the Avalanches in Colorado hit the Nashville Predators 2-1 Thursday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first round playoff series.

Makar got the rebound in the middle of the offensive zone and blew the puck right into the goal just like it had been all night. His 12 shots on target were a new franchise playoff record.

“It felt like the puck was finding us on top tonight,” explained the humble Makar. “Not even me in particular, we were just trying to get around it.”

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Colorado Avalanche defender Cale Makar is overrun with teammates after scoring against the Nashville Predators during extra time in the second game of a series of NHL Stanley Cup first-round playoffs on Thursday, May 5, 2022 in Denver. Avalanche won 2-1.
(AP Photo / Jack Dempsey)

Nathan MacKinnon also scored for Colorado, who faced a more intense defense than Nashville after winning 7-2 in Game 1. The Predators blocked 34 shots.

“We felt like we were on top of them the whole third bout, and eventually, most of the time, the hockey gods will reward you for that hard work,” Makar said. “For us, we were able to get a lucky one in extra time.”

The series moves to Nashville for Game 3 on Saturday.

Yakov Trenin scored for Nashville.

Connor Ingram stepped in and stepped up by stopping 49 shots as he made his first post-season start. He conceded MacKinnon’s goal on the first shot of the match and blocked everything up to Makar’s goal.

The 25-year-old Ingram replaced David Rittich in the first game after Avalanche scored five goals in the first period. The Predators are left without top goalkeeper Juuse Saros, who has been sidelined with a lower body injury but may return later in the series.

“This is what you dream of as a kid, to be able to do it and play in front of such a crowd,” said Ingram, whose parents watched the game. “Is very funny.”

Since moving to Denver, the Avalanche are 14-2 in a best-of-seven playoff series when they capture their first two games.

A goal was disallowed at Colorado in the closing seconds of the second period due to goalkeeper interference. Artturi Lehkonen fell on top of Ingram before a Valeri Nichushkin shot entered the field. Avalanche challenged the game and the referees confirmed the call in reply.

He put Nashville into power play to start the third. Shortly thereafter, the Predators had a 5-on-3 lead for 1:52 when Nichushkin went into the penalty area for a high stick. But they couldn’t capitalize. The best scoring chance was Makar on the run, only to see his shot in Ingram’s glove.

Ingram gave his best in the third period when he stopped Nazem Kadri’s point blank shot with his left pad. Ingram spent most of the season with the American Hockey League Milwaukee Admirals, where he went 30-17-9. He has appeared in three regular season games for Nashville this season.

His counterpart applauded Ingram’s effort.

“He played great,” said Kuemper. “Coming in without much experience, he was definitely ready to go. He made life difficult for our shooters.”

Both teams fought on power play, going 0 for 8 combined. There were 110 combined hits.

“They are one of the best offensive teams in the league. They do it to a lot of teams,” said Predators manager John Hynes. “If you want to beat them, you have to have a strong goalkeeper. I thought the way our boys defended and the way they played when they were under duress was at the level you need tonight.”

The first period was very different for the Predators than in Game 1, when they conceded five goals. This time, they overtook Avalanche by an 11-8 margin.

Trenin drew the game with 1 each with 4:41 left in the first. He celebrated by jumping on the boards behind the door.

MacKinnon scored the first goal on the first shot of the game 5:25 in action. He scored a shot on the side of Ingram’s club in a mini escape. MacKinnon has 73 points (31 goals, 42 assists) in 52 career playoff games.

“He’s definitely a different animal in the playoffs,” Makar said. “That’s why he is probably the best player in the world.”

SHOT OF MAKAR

Makar’s 12 shots on target surpassed the franchise playoff score held by Claude Lemieux, who twice scored 11 shots in a post-season game (May 8, 1996 in Chicago and May 9, 1997 in Edmonton).

MENTAL HEALTH

Ingram became a mental health advocate, talking about coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder. He took part in an NHL player assistance program over a year ago.

“It was also a point in his life where he hit rock bottom, but he also felt really supported,” said Hynes. “He has grown in many ways as a person and also as a player.”

THE ASSISTANCE OF JOSI

Predator defender Roman Josi has set Trenin’s goal of giving him 31 post-season assists in his career. He binds Ryan Ellis for the most part in the Predator story.

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