New on Sports Illustrated: Down 2-0 to Stars, Avalanche need defense

August 26, 2020 at 06:09AM

Surrendering 10 goals in the first two games of their Stanley Cup playoff series with the Dallas Stars is a trend the Colorado Avalanche must address.

Just as pressing, as they get ready to drop the puck for Wednesday's Game 3 of the best-of-seven series, is the lack of scoring depth shown by the Avalanche. The Stars lead the series 2-0.

After rocketing through to the Western Conference semifinal series thanks to a balanced attack, the Avalanche have suddenly become a one-line squad. Notably, Nathan MacKinnon has had a hand in all five goals his team has scored in those first two losses, including Monday's 5-2 defeat in which they blew a 2-0 lead.

"If we had a little bit more (secondary scoring), we probably wouldn't be in an 0-2 hole, but we are. That's behind us," coach Jared Bednar said. "We're going to need our big guys to be good coming up. We're going to need more out of the guys that we can use some depth scoring from. Full-team effort in order to win. I believe we have it in us. I don't think it's all of a sudden miraculously gone."

That said, the Avalanche must do a better job of preventing goals, too, and it's not just on goaltender Pavel Francouz. He is in the net because Philipp Grubauer suffered a lower-body injury in Game 1 of this series and is out indefinitely.

Both elements can be overcome, and the Avalanche expect it of themselves.

"It's a seven-game series for a reason," captain Gabriel Landeksog said. "We feel, more than anything, we're in this thing. We've been up 2-0 before and we know how quickly it can turn, and all of a sudden, it's a tight series. ... There's no quit in this group."

Right now, it will take a big effort to stop Dallas.

The Stars struggled when the league restarted, and even in the early going of the opening round series with the Calgary Flames, but are now rolling.

Dallas has won five straight games and six of seven, during which they have scored 29 goals. That said, they're aware the Avalanche have another gear, and know all too well how quickly a series can change.

After all, the Stars were a dozen seconds away from falling behind to the Flames 3-1 in their series before winning that crucial Game 4 in overtime and then rolling on to victory in six games.

"Until you put a team away, you just can't feel comfortable," forward Joe Pavelski said. "We've done our job so far, but there's a ways to go. We'll catch our breath. We'll see where we can improve, and we'll come back at them."

Confidence among the Stars is definitely high, in big part because of their success when falling behind. Five of their seven victories since the restart have been come-from-behind wins.

"The one thing we're always talking about on the bench is momentum," coach Rick Bowness said. "If you have a bad shift, you need the next line up to get momentum back. If we score a goal, we want to go right back at them, we want to attack. So it's more of a mentality of the moment. Right now, the puck is going in and we're getting the breaks. So, it's just momentum."

--Field Level Media

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