The Avalanche seemed in good spirits and optimistic about defeating the San Jose Sharks at the Pepsi Center on Monday to send the second-round playoff series back to San Jose for a Game 7 on Wednesday.
The Sharks have a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series and are trying to return to the Western Conference finals for the fifth time and first time since 2016.
Coach Jared Bednar
will use 11 forwards and seven defensemen, so Patrik Nemeth
will make his series debut. Sven Andrighetto
is expected to be scratched. Matt Calvert
will miss his second game in a row and third in the past four games with an upper-body injury.
Nemeth played in all five first-round games against Calgary.
“His heaviness down low, being able to stop the cycle,” Bednar said of the 6-foot-3, 219-pound Nemeth. “Shot blocking is something he brings and the penalty kill. Eleven forwards, we’ll mix some guys around a little bit, play the guys who are really jumping.”
The Avalanche are coming off a 2-1 loss at the SAP Center on Saturday when they were outshot 39-22 and, according to Bednar, outworked.
The Avalanche haven’t lost two home games in a row since March 11-15 to Carolina and Anaheim. They’ve won nine of the past 10 games at the Pepsi Center, outscoring teams 36-19.
“Everybody knows what’s at stake, so it isn’t hard to get up for a game like this,” Mikko Rantanen
said after the morning skate. “You know if you win we go to Game 7 and if we lose, it’s game over. Everybody believes in this group and we have pretty good confidence from our last home game (a 3-0 win in Game 4).”
San Jose leads series 3-2
All times Mountain Time
G1 – San Jose 5, Avalanche 2
G2 – Avalanche 4, San Jose 3
G3 – San Jose 4, Avalanche 2
G4 – Avalanche 3, San Jose 0
G5 – San Jose 2, Avalanche 1
G6 Monday 8 p.m. – at Pepsi Center
*G7 Wednesday TBD – at San Jose
"It's going to be an emotional game for us and we need to be ready," Nathan MacKinnon
said. "The last 12 games (of the regular season) it felt like we could be (eliminated from playoff contention) at any time, so we're kind of used to it, I guess. We know what desperation feels like.
“Obviously, we haven't been down 3-2 in a series, but we just have to win this game and hopefully let Game 7 take care of itself."
This would certainly be a good time for the power play to produce. The Avalanche are 2-for-17 in the series.
“There’s been an attack mentality that’s been missing a little bit at times,” Bednar said. “It’s inconsistent. I think the puck’s got to move a little quicker and we got to do more to shoot the puck to soften them up, retrieve some pucks and try to attack with chaos. We’re passing around the perimeter, we’re a little stagnant and not getting enough pucks to the net.”
The projected lineup:
Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen
Colin Wilson – Tyson Jost – Alexander Kerfoot
Matt Nieto – Carl Soderberg -- J.T. Compher
Gabriel Bourque – Derick Brassard
Samuel Girard -- Cale Makar
Nikita Zadorov -- Tyson Barrie
Ian Cole -- Erik Johnson