The book on Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche: They’re extremely speedy.
An overlooked chapter in that book: They can turn physical, too, when push comes to shove.
MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog each scored twice and the well-rested Avalanche made quick work of Vegas with their speed, beating the Golden Knights 7-1 on Sunday night in a skirmish-filled Game 1 of their second-round playoff series.
What began as Colorado putting on a passing clinic — racing out to a 5-0 lead — spiraled into one fight after another. There were a total of 79 penalty minutes between the teams, including four 10-minute misconduct calls in the third period and a match penalty on Vegas’ Ryan Reaves, who was also given an attempt-to-injure penalty.
“I don’t think you can call that physicality to be honest with you,” Landeskog said. “Reaves is on a mission to hurt somebody in the third and that’s what he goes out and does. I’m sure the league will take a look at it, intent to injure.”
Young defenseman Cale Makar added a goal and three assists, while Brandon Saad and Mikko Rantanen also scored for the Avalanche, who had an extra burst after nearly a week break following a four-game sweep of St. Louis in round one.
“Everyone took it serious, the break. Wasn’t a vacation,” MacKinnon said. “Everyone was ready to go and we had a great start.”
William Karlsson scored the lone goal for Vegas. Robin Lehner was a surprise starter in net and stopped 30 shots in his first appearance of these playoffs. He stepped in for Marc-Andre Fleury, who was in goal for all seven games as the Golden Knights eliminated Minnesota on Friday.
“Playoffs are about having short memories and getting ready for the next one,” Vegas coach Pete DeBoer said. “The bottom line was we weren’t good enough tonight. They were very good.”