The Golden Knights, who made a coaching change in January with the team stuck at No. 7 in the West, brought in Pete DeBoer to replace Gerrard Gallant, went 3–0 in the round robin, before winning to Dallas and St. Louis Beat. In Colorado, the team securing a first-round matchup with the No. 8 Chicago Blackhawks, who finished 12th in the regular season in the West before upsetting Edmonton in the qualifying round.
Vegas, which advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2018, received two goals from Jonathan Marchlesault, one on a penalty shot, as well as another tally from Nicholas Roy as the Knights completed an undefeated tournament.
“We came here to take care of every challenge we faced. We did a good job,” said Marchsault. “We wanted the first seed after the round robin and we did it. So I think it’s very positive. We’re really happy where our game is as a team.”
Goaltender Robin Lehner led the way to a 32-run win, setting up a unique series against the Blackhawks, before halting the game in March. Many Blackhawks, a day after eliminating the Oilers in their home rink, saw the Knights win from the stand.
Tuch scored the winner on a shot to the shoulder of the Avalanche goalkeeper Philip Grubauer. The Avalanche tied the game with 1:02 left in regulation when JT Compher caught the puck. It was Tuch’s third goal in round-robin play.
“Looks great,” Took said. “Honestly it was a big goal to get the first seed. I didn’t care who scored it until we did.”
Juno Donskoi and Nathan McKinnon scored for the Avalanche. Grubauer was over Pavel Francoz, stopping 27 shots in a win over Dallas on Wednesday. The experienced Grubauer was solid in saving 22 shots.
Colorado’s Pierre-Edouard Bellemare had a late goal in the third against his former team, only to send the shot high.
The intensity was raised to another level in the second period with four goals. The scoring spree began when Marchsault hit a power-play shot of Grubauer. Mackinnon was in the penalty box for an unlicensed call after expressing his displeasure over an icing call.
McKennone, a candidate for the league’s MVP honors with the Lady Bing Trophy, atoned for losing his cool with spinning to play the game, a backhanded shot on the power play.
When Roy was in heavy traffic shots in front of the net, Vegas again jumped in front. The lead would last less than two minutes before Donskoi tied it.
Colorado had a golden opportunity during the 5-on-3 power play for the first time. The best scoring opportunity was given by Mikko Rantenen, but his shot short was kicked out of the air by Lehner’s glove.
With the loss, Colorado finished second in the round robin, and would capture Arizona in the first round.
“We’re talking like we lost and our game was bad. I don’t see it that way. I don’t look at it that way,” Avalanche coach Jared Bedner said. “If we were expecting this thing to be easy, then we are in the wrong tournament. It’s going to work. It’s a real hockey team. I’m not really disappointed.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.