In trying to get past a Game 5 cosmic collapse, the Avalanche has at least one thing to offer:
The Avs go into a potential finale Game 6 against the St. Louis Blues at The Enterprise Center Friday night and are on the road at a perfect 4-0 this postseason.
Of course, none of those victories were preceded by a historic meltdown that saw a trip to the Western Conference Finals at stake – a 5-4 loss in overtime that revived the ghosts of failed second-round series of the past.
But Colorado coach Jared Bednar remained confident his team can regroup, just as they did prior to Game 3 at The Enterprise Center.
The Avs won both games in St. Louis after a poor performance in Game 2 at Ball Arena, which tied the Western Conference Semifinals 1-1. But St. Louis delivered a solid punch Wednesday night when the Avs lost after leading 3-0 in a playoff game for the first time since moving to Colorado.
The Blues limited Colorado to just 11 shots in the second and third periods after the Avs had 18 in the opening frame.
“We were done with ourselves after Game 2. We didn’t play well. We had to go to St. Louis and do our best and be resilient and mentally tough and get back to our game and we did it,” Bednar told reporters at Denver International Airport on Thursday. “We did it twice and we did it very well.
“And now of course we are unhappy with the game last night, especially with its ending. We need to regroup and do what we did in Games 3 and 4 there.”
If that doesn’t happen, Game 7 is Sunday night at the Ball Arena. The Avs have lost five straight games in a row 7 — one of the reasons they haven’t reached the Western Conference Finals in 20 years.
After squandering the 3-0 lead, the Avs were on the verge of victory thanks to a sensational end-to-end play from Nathan MacKinnon that gave Colorado a 4-3 lead into the final minute of regular time. Colorado was clearly the better team in the first half of the game and St. Louis dominated the final third.
MacKinnon, who had three goals and a hand on all four goals, couldn’t single-handedly beat the Blues, who rallied to cut Colorado’s series lead to 3-2.
“I don’t have any different thoughts this morning about last night’s game than last night,” Bednar said. “I loved the better part of our game. We gave up a couple of opportunities, they took them and ended up pushing. I don’t think we handled it well. We had opportunities to pull out pucks, didn’t stay alert and stayed confident and followed them enough and it seemed like what could go wrong went wrong for us. Most of that, I think, is still up to us.”
But now everything is behind them, emphasizes the coach. Bednar expects his side to play with confidence on Friday.
“It’s the best-of-seven series. If you’re sulking or living in the past or not staying in the moment, then you’re done,” he said. “So I like that attitude from our boys.”
Avs defender Cale Makar had no trouble sleeping after Game 5.
“The second I left the ice, you just try to forget it. You learn from it,” he said of DIA before boarding a chartered flight to St. Louis. “I think that’s a valuable team experience that we took from this game and there’s not much more to say about it. That’s in the past now.”
Makar added: “We are still in good shape. We’re still in line. We have an opportunity to end it again now, so you just can’t take those opportunities to end a team’s season for granted.”
Fourth line Avs forward Darren Helm helped the Detroit Red Wings win the 2008 Stanley Cup. This is his ninth postseason run with 91 playoff games.
“You can’t get too frustrated or down when things aren’t going well because there’s still work to be done,” he said. “We need some positive energy to get through this series. We have a good team and we have to trust each other and play hard and not worry about the results and just focus on what we have to do to win.”