Colorado’s leaders “had a great night”

Avalanche Coach Jared Bednar met with the media at the Ball Arena on Thursday morning, a non-working day for the players, and expressed mixed feelings about his team’s 4-3 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup- Finale the night before.

The overall message: The Avs will keep playing their game.

“We watched the game last night, we liked big parts of it, didn’t like parts of it,” Bednar said. “Some things… we can fix. Regardless of how Tampa plays, we have a specific identity that we must play in order to be successful. We just learned that over the course of this season.

“And then for me it’s like I’m tackling these momentum swings and we’ve broken the game down into five-minute increments throughout the year. … It’s something our guys talk about on the bench, and they understand it and they realize that when the other team pushes and we lose a five-minute chunk of a period, we have to recover and turn it in the right direction. And we also talk about specific things that can help us with that.”

Avalanche Star center Nathan MacKinnon had five shots and a Plus 1 rating. His only point in Game 1 was an assist for Valeri Nichushkin’s goal that gave Colorado a 2-0 lead midway through the first period.

MacKinnon played mostly against Tampa Bay’s second line, led by center Anthony Cirelli and wingers Brandon Hagel and Alex Killorn. This is the Lightning’s best line of defense.

Bednar isn’t overly keen on avoiding MacKinnon and wingers Gabe Landeskog and Valeri Nishushkin playing against the Cirelli line. The Avs changed last at home, so Bednar has a say in the matchups in the ball arena.

“I think it’s inevitable that he’s going to play Cirelli if that’s what the encounter[Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper]wants,” Bednar said of MacKinnon. “And I wanted to start with our appetizers. You know Nate; he is not afraid or intimidated to take action against anyone. In fact, he accepts some of these matchups. There are a few other matchups that I like just as much or better. But certainly I won’t interrupt our game flow to avoid something until I see that it doesn’t work.

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