Gazette columnist Paul Klee's three observations from Colorado's stunning 2-1 win against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Friday:
1. At some point during the Matt Duchene deal it’s possible that Joe Sakic said: “OK, but we want The Hamburglar, too.” Have you ever seen anything like Andrew Hammond on Friday? Pro sports can’t get better. Hammy — this guy gets unlimited nicknames — saved the Avalanche’s bacon. The goalie was a throw-in in the Duchene deal. He had started one game for the Avs before he started a game that would have ended the Avs’ season. Not enough drama? Hammy then lost his stick. Then he stopped back-to-back, short-handed breakaway chances by the Predators. And didn’t it look natural for Hammond? There wasn’t a he-got-lucky vibe after Hammond made 40-plus saves in an elimination game. He looked the part. Win or lose, his performance was convincing enough that Hammond, an unrestricted free agent after this season, should get a serious look from the Avalanche as a long-term option. Who would argue?
2. The return of Sam Girard made a difference, and it showed how the Avalanche are set up to be a factor for years to come. Some of the other Avs who are 25-or-younger: Gabe Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon, Alexander Kerfoot, Tyson Jost, J.T. Compher, Nikita Zadorov. I mean, come on. The Avalanche youth movement has gone toe-to-toe with the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and has the Predators on the ropes. Then it's Sven Andrighetto, 25, who scores the game-winner with 1:28 left in regulation. Youth. Do the Avs have the perfect pitch for 2018-19 season tickets or what?
3. Game 6 is 5 p.m. Sunday at Pepsi Center. Here's a hunch they keep Andrew Hammond in goal. He's stopped 52 of 53 shots in one-plus games. Nashville's an outfit that expected 20-plus postseason games. The last thing it wanted was a Game 6. The Avs are a team that totaled 48 points last season. Game 6 is something they never imagined. Bring your burgers.