Avalanche win after meltdown delays NHL Lake Tahoe outdoor game

·3-min read
The Vegas Golden Knights, in the dark jerseys, and the Colorado Avalanche, in the white, had their NHL Outdoor game at Lake Tahoe halted after one period by poor ice conditions with plans to finish the game at night

Nathan MacKinnon tallied a goal and two assists as the Colorado Avalanche beat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 in an NHL outdoor game at Lake Tahoe on Saturday that took a total of 10 hours and 37 minutes to complete because of poor ice conditions.

The contest was suspended after the first period with the Avalanche leading 1-0 after the hot sun took its toll on the outdoor ice surface.

That led to an eight-hour delay with the game resuming at 9 pm West Coast time (0500 GMT).

MacKinnon thought the ice conditions were good enough to keep playing.

"It was weird. The ice was bad but we didn't think of stopping," said the Canadian forward. "I thought we were just going to grind it out."

Instead of playing with the lake and mountains in the backdrop, the game's final two periods were completed under the floodlights.

The league said they halted the game because of safety issues.

"We concluded after consulting with our icemakers and both teams that we didn't think it was safe and appropriate to continue playing this game at this time," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said.

Colorado defenceman Samuel Girard opened the scoring only 2:58 into the contest.

A special rink was assembled on the 18th hole of a lakeside golf course to create a unique atmosphere with mountains and boaters watching on the water a short walk away but no spectators on site due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The game was the first of a double-header that concludes Sunday with the Boston Bruins facing the Philadelphia Flyers, their start being delayed to Sunday night.

"We've done more than 30 outdoor games. This has been the most difficult weather circumstance we've had and it's a beautiful day," said Bettman. "We knew unabated sunshine was a problem."

Bettman said the players were divided over returning to play or waiting.

"You've got to do the prudent thing," he said. "We're all disappointed. You can't have success if you don't risk failure."

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, a Swedish left winger, said they were ready to keep going but it was probably wiser to wait and resume under the lights.

"That first period was the way it was but some places were slushy," he said. "We were ready to go out. We wanted to go out, but it's probably for the best."

Colorado played in "throwback" uniforms featuring the logo of the Quebec Nordiques, the identity of the club before it moved from Canada to Denver in 1995.

- McDavid nets three goals -

Two outdoor games originally planned for 2021 were scrapped because of the pandemic.

St. Louis was to have played Minnesota at Target Field baseball park in Minneapolis on January 1 and the Carolina Hurricanes were to have hosted a game at a US college football stadium on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Connor McDavid delivered a hat trick and five points as the Edmonton Oilers clobbered the Calgary Flames 7-1 in the battle of Alberta.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins finished with two goals and an assist while goaltender Mikko Koskinen made 43 saves for the Oilers, who have won nine of 11 games, including a pair on consecutive nights against the Flames.