PREVIEW: Golden Knights travel to Colorado seeking crucial Game 5 victory

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Vegas Golden Knights right wing Ryan Reaves (75) checks Colorado Avalanche defenseman Patrik Nemeth (24) during the third period of game four of the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena. Photo: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a slow start to the series, the Vegas Golden Knights have clawed their way back and now sit tied with the Colorado Avalanche at two games apiece.

They have done this by getting back to their identity over the last few games and using their speed and strength to overwhelm the Avalanche defenders on the forecheck. These two teams have been destined to play against each other all season and the series hasn’t disappointed through four games as it’s all tied up.

The Golden Knights “Misfit Line” of Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and William Karlsson continues to score big goals as they have done throughout the entire playoffs.

Now the matchup has been reduced to a best-of-three series with two of those games played in Colorado. Considering that the Golden Knights lost both of the early road games in this series, the deciding factor could very well be the Avalanche’s ability to continue to defend home ice. The good news for the Golden Knights is that they did outplay the Avalanche in Game 2, losing only after conceding a power-play goal in overtime.

The momentum shift in this series has been drastic as after the first two games many were ready to hand the Stanley Cup to the Avalanche. From there, it’s been all Golden Knights and their 5-1 victory in Game 4 was complete domination from start to finish. They have done a great job at neutralizing the Avalanche’s top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan Mackinnon, and Mikko Rantanen, something that no NHL team has been able to do for a sustained stretch this entire season.

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Vegas Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer is pictured behind the bench during the third period against the Colorado Avalanche in game four of the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena. Photo: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Marchessault played the hero role in Game 4 as he scored his first career playoff hat trick. When his third goal went in the net, T-Mobile Arena erupted into pandemonium and hats rained onto the ice. The crowd was raucous in Games 3 and 4 and the Golden Knights are going to need to find a way to keep the same energy level without the advantage of 18,000 fans.

Nazem Kadri’s suspension upheld

The NHL announced that Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri’s suspension has been upheld. Kadri was suspended after a dangerous hit in Round 1 when the Avalanche were facing the St. Louis Blues. He was given eight games for the dangerous play but had appealed to get that number lowered.

Kadri does have a history with the NHL Department of Player Safety as he has been suspended in the past. When he is on the ice, Kadri is a good middle-six player that can score at a very good rate for a player that plays with such a chip on his shoulder.

He will be able to return for a potential Game 7 in this series. Until then, the Golden Knights do not need to worry about Kadri seeing the ice.

Golden Knights misfit line continues to produce

The Golden Knights “Misfit Line” of Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and William Karlsson continues to score big goals as they have done throughout the entire playoffs. While the first line may have more talent and high-end skill, this trio has great chemistry and the three players complement each other very nicely.

With Marchessault on the ice at 5-on-5, the Golden Knights are outshooting the Avalanche 37-21. While Avalanche Phillip Grubauer has been able to keep his team in games where they have been severely outplayed, Game 4 served as an example that his hot streak may be coming to an end.

Both of these teams have incredibly dangerous top lines and while the Golden Knights have won that matchup thus far, it’s incredibly difficult to keep the skill guys on the Avalanche quiet for long. Instead, the Golden Knights need to have their secondary guys like those on the Misfit Line win their battles and in turn win the game.

The puck drops tonight at 6 PM PDT. The winner of this game will be one win away from advancing to the next round.