DENVER – The Colorado Avalanche kick off another quest for the Stanley Cup Tuesday at Ball Arena as they host the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the first-round series.
The Avalanche earned the top seed in the Western Conference, finishing with a 56-19-7 record and a franchise-record 119 points – second only to the Florida Panthers’ 122 points in the Eastern Conference. Nashville finished the season with a 45-30-7 record and 97 points.
The Avs have only lost five games in regulation, and four in overtime, at Ball Arena this year, while the Predators own a 20-16-5 away record.
Colorado went 1-1-2 against Nashville this season – beating them in Denver in November before falling 5-2 at Nashville in December. They again lost at Nashville in January, 5-4, in overtime, and lost again to the Predators in a shootout in Denver on April 28.
The Avs went 1-6 over their last seven regular-season games, while Nashville finished its seven games of the season 2-5.
Gabriel Landeskog is expected to return to the lineup for the first time since undergoing knee surgery in March, and coach Jared Bednar said Nazem Kadri, who returned on April 20, will be a game-time decision after battling an illness.
Nashville, meanwhile, will be without top goaltender Juuse Saros for the first and second games of the series because of a leg injury. He recorded 38 of the Predators’ wins this season. Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper won a career-high 37 games this year, but went 0-0-2 against Nashville.
The series will feature what many think are the two top defenseman in Colorado’s Cale Makar and Nashville’s Roman Josi, one of whom will likely win the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman this year. Josi led the Predators in points and assists this season, while Makar finished fourth on the Avs with 86 points, and second on the team with 58 assists.
While both teams averaged four goals per game in their matchups this season, the Avalanche had eight players with 50+ points this season and as a team scored the second-most goals ever behind the Cup-winning 1995-96 team.
The Avalanche hope that offensive firepower, the return of the captain Landeskog, and finishing with the second-fewest goals allowed in the Western Conference this season behind Calgary will push them over the hump to their first Stanley Cup since the 2000-01 season.
They have lost in the second round of the NHL playoffs each of the last three seasons after a first-round ouster in 2017-18.
The puck drops for Game 1 at 7:30 p.m. MT and the game will be televised on ESPN. The rest of the series schedule is as follows:
- Game 2 in Denver – May 5 at 7:30 p.m. MT on TNT
- Game 3 in Nashville – May 7 at 2:30 p.m. MT on TNT
- Game 4 in Nashville – May 9 at 7:30 p.m. MT on ESPN
- Game 5 (if necessary) in Denver – May 11, TBD
- Game 6 (if necessary) in Nashville – May 13, TBD
- Game 7 (if necessary) in Denver – May 15, TBD
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this story.