NHL playoffs results daily: Avalanche eliminate Oilers, advance to Stanley Cup Final

Game 4: Avalanche 6, Oilers 5 (OT) | Colorado wins 4-0

Who was the guy? We’re going to peek behind the curtain for a second here. When your job for the night is putting together posts like this one, you have to keep track of your options – and the lead one is probably going to change as the game progresses. The Guy from the first period might not be The Guy through two or three or overtime. What we had Monday night was a 360-degree turn. Through all the drama, all the twists and all the shifts, we wound up right back at Cale Makar. At this point, he’s good enough to make the hyperbole not just understandable but also passable as clear-eyed analysis. A five-point night (one goal, four assists) seems like only a tick above his standard night at the office. Forget that the last defenseman to manage such a thing was Al MacInnis. It’s not just about production, though; it’s about style. Nobody has more than Makar – he looks different enough to pop for unfamiliar eyes. My cousin? Not much of an NHL fan. He caught one of the earlier games in this series and texted to ask about No. 8. And it’s not just about style. There are no empty calories to be found. It’s tempting to look at the numbers and the highlights and think of Makar as an offensive force because the offense is that overwhelming. It’s human nature – and it’s unfair because he does everything you could expect and plenty of what you do not. What a player. We’re lucky to watch him.

What was the key? Mike Smith. Everyone on Twitter took their cracks at making jokes about the Oilers goalie, so we’re not going to belabor the point, but the facts are the facts: Smith allowed 2.57 all-situation goals above expected (35 saves on 41 shots) and made some major unforced errors along the way. Coincidentally, the only Avs goal Makar did not figure into was this one, which pulled Colorado with one with about 11 minutes left in regulation:

You can blame the official for getting in the way of Smith’s clear attempt or Gabriel Landeskog for taking a late poke… but I won’t. Smith wasn’t good enough Monday – or at any point, really, in the series. Edmonton was always going to be overpowered, but it did not need to end like this. Sure, it was always probably going to end like this; it just was not necessary.

Key stat: Colorado could have as many as 12 days off before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. That’s worth tracking. One more bit: The Avs became the fourth team in NHL history to erase a multigoal, third-period deficit to advance to the final. The others: Dallas (Game 5 of the 2020 Conference final) and Montreal (Game 7 of the 1979 semifinal and Game 4 of the 1958 semifinal).

The moment it was over: It has to be the moment it was actually over. Artturi Lehkonen’s series-winning goal at 1:19 of overtime.

If “Artturi Lehkonen sends his team to the Cup Final” sounds familiar, there’s a reason.

Lehkonen finished the series with two goals, four assists and strong underlying numbers across the board. That’s a guy you trade a first-round pick for at the deadline, huh?

Moment of the game: Leon Draisaitl on the bench, making everyone sore by proxy.

In a different universe, this would’ve been The Draisaitl Game. Playing through God knows what, he managed four primary assists, joining Connor McDavid in the 30-point club. Most of the time, it takes players an extra round to manage that.

Now we wait for the breakup-day laundry list of ailments for Draisaitl. It’ll be long and painful.

Oilers worry meter: 🕰 … As remarkable as McDavid was for the first two rounds, prime chances aren’t a guarantee for anyone.

Avalanche worry meter: 🕰 … Time to rest up, avoid rust and hope the Rangers and Lightning beat the hell out of each other.

Three stars

On tap for Tuesday

• Rangers at Lightning, 8 pm ET (Rangers lead 2-1)

(Photo of Artturi Lehkonen, center, Devon Toewsleft, and Logan O’Connor: Codie McLachlan / Getty Images)


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