Austin Watson of the Nashville Predators celebrates a goal that made it 2-0 Preds in Sunday's win over the Colorado Avalanche. (Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
It was not the ending the Colorado Avalanche envisioned or wanted.
But it came. And it was swift and painful.
The Nashville Predators showed why they won the President's Trophy as the team with the most points in the NHL during the regular season.
They scored two goals in the first period and added two more in the second in a series-clinching 5-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche in game six of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs before 18,087 fans at Pepsi Center.
The Avs came out sluggish on offense and generous on defense, giving the Predators great scoring chances early on.
Mattias Ekhom got Nashville on the board at 7:02 of the first period. Austin Watson made it 2-0 not even three-and-a-half minutes later.
"That's not how you want to finish up, no doubt," Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog said. "We made them fight for it."
The Avs early issues on defense were tough to overcome.
"We made a couple mistakes in the D zone and they ended up in our net and we kind of started reeling from there," Avs head coach Jared Bednar said.
While the Avs will undoubtedly need a little time to get past this loss, they made great strides in going from the worst team in the NHL last year to a team that pushed the best team in the league to six games in the first round of the playoffs this year.
"Good bounce-back season," Avs forward Nathan MacKinnon said. "It's a cool story that we went last to playoffs but we're trying to win a Cup and obviously it's disappointing we showed up like this and lost 5-0 in an elimination game."
Now, the Avs will look to try to build on this year's turnaround and get back to the postseason next year.
"We know from history a lot of work goes into that," Bednar said. "There's a buy-in and a commitment and a determination from everyone in the organization. [Everyone] has to have it if you're going to move it forward."
For now, the Avs are left to take consolation in a terrific turnaround season and run to the playoffs. It may be hard to appreciate those things in the moment of a disappointing and frustrating loss but history might one day show that the Avs' resurgence began in 2017-18.
Mike Haynes, Voice of the Avalanche on Altitude, spoke with Colorado's Morning News on Monday, April 23 and talked about the series, the turnaround season and what might be ahead for the Avs.
Postgame comments from Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon.
Postgame comments from Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog.
Postgame comments from Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen.
Postgame comments from Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar.
Postgame comments from Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson.
Postgame comments from Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov.
Postgame comments from Predators head coach Peter Laviolette.