Avalanche not stressing about power play heading into Game 4 of Western 2nd Round

DENVER — The Colorado Avalanche are frustrated their power play has been in a funk the past two games in the Western Conference Second Round, but they’re confident they’ll figure it out soon.

“There are going to be ups and downs,” Avalanche forward Ross Colton said Sunday on the eve of Game 4 against the Dallas Stars at Ball Arena on Monday (9:30 p.m. ET; ESPN, FX-CA, SN, TVAS). “The PP was hot for a while there in the last series (against the Winnipeg Jets), and in Game 1 we had a couple as well. Nothing to get stressed about.

“They have a bunch of guys who are willing to block shots and they kind of clog the middle really well. I think it’s just keep getting chances, keep moving the puck and throw as many you can on net and work with the screen with Val (forward Valeri Nichushkin) in front, stuff like that.”

Colorado trails the best-of-7 series 2-1 after a 4-1 loss in Game 3 here Saturday. In Game 2, a 5-3 loss in Dallas on Thursday, the Avalanche went 0-for-3 with five shots on goal on the power play. They also gave up a short-handed goal, scored by Stars forward Tyler Seguin at 18:06 of the second period to make it 4-0.

The Avalanche were 0-for-3 again in Game 3, all in the first period, and had a combined two shots. The Stars blocked 24 shots Saturday.

“They’re one of the best defensive teams in the League for a reason,” Colton said. “It’s up to us to watch some film, break them down a little bit and just keep getting bodies in front.”

Colorado’s power play was on a roll in the first round against Winnipeg, when it had a 37.5 percent success rate, third in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That was coming off the regular season, when the Avalanche had the fifth-best power play (24.5 percent). After they went 2-for-2 with the man-advantage in Game 1 of the second round, the Stars made some tweaks to their penalty kill, which Dallas coach Pete DeBoer declined to share.

“I don’t want to get into them, but I’m sure they’ll look and see what they are,” DeBoer said after the game Saturday. “We made some adjustments after Game 1, and we also got a huge commitment tonight blocking shots from everybody. You know, everyone took a turn. We got some key blocks at key times, which is always important against a team like that.”

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar noticed the changes.

“In Game 2, it already they looked like they made some adjustments, so now it’s up to us to make adjustments to get around it,” he said Sunday. “That’s the way it goes. We have success in Game 1, they make some adjustments, it works, now we have to readjust and try to find some holes in what they’re doing.

“That’s what guys are spending a bunch of time on this morning. We had a 5-on-5 meeting, they’re talking some power play right now and getting a workout in and getting ready to go for tomorrow.”

In Game 2, it seemed like the Avalanche had less time and space on the power play, but center Nathan MacKinnon said they had the opportunities to make plays. It was more about the execution, or lack thereof.

“Definitely on the power play [we struggled]; I thought 5-on-5 we did a great job,” he said. “We just have to find a way to get it in the net.

“I just think everyone looks at the score and people need to watch the game sometimes. We’re doing a good job. Dallas is one of the best teams in the League, one of the best defensive teams in the League. So, there are two teams playing out there and they’re doing a great job, but I think our guys are working hard.”

Bednar said Saturday the opportunities were there for the Avalanche, especially in the first period. If they get a goal on one of those power plays, perhaps it’s a different game.

They just need to finish.

“We came out with a good start; we had a lot of energy, we were feeding off the crowd,” Colton said. “We’ve been playing behind a lot in these last couple of games, so I think for us, maybe jump out to an early lead and continue to keep playing the way we’ve been playing.”

First appeared on www.nhl.com

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