Avalanche, Flyers look to avoid deep series holes

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) is checked by Dallas Stars defenseman Andrej Sekera (5) during third-period NHL Western Conference Stanley Cup playoff hockey game action in Edmonton, Alberta, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020.

Four teams in NHL history have fallen behind 3-0 and gone on to win the playoff series. The Avalanche are not on that list and would likely prefer to skirt the issue.

Confident, versatile Colorado has been humbled in two straight multigoal losses to the Dallas Stars and are in a wobbly spot heading into Wednesday’s Game 3. The team isn’t on the verge of elimination, but what control it briefly held in this series dried up.

Dallas scored on both power plays of a 5-on-3 to erase a 2-0 deficit Monday. By the time a fluky third and controversial fourth goal were thrown on the pile, the Avalanche were back on their heels and never recovered.

That mental fragility concerned coach Jared Bednar after the game.

“I think when we get down, it’s not about making sure we get that goal back in the next two minutes. We just need to keep plugging away the right way and believe that things will work for us,” defenseman Ryan Graves said.

The team that scored 14 goals in two games in Round 1 has gotten all five of its goals against Dallas from its top-line trio of Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog.

Scoring depth was what made Colorado so scary not so long ago.

“Our guys are ready to step up and be that four-line team that got us to where we are right now,” forward J.T. Compher said.

Bednar said it was a tough call on whether to spread out his three effective scorers. The candidates he’d place them with aren’t playing well, being held to the perimeter and not getting good chances.

Sweeping personnel changes didn’t sound likely, however.

“I think my gut will be to rely on our veterans and the guys who got us to this point,” Bednar said.

After Game 1, Bednar expressed disappointment in his middle six forwards and defense. On Tuesday, after a game he liked better but in a deeper hole, he said he wouldn’t single out individuals and groups. Everyone needed to step up and rescue the playoff run.

“I still believe in this team,” Bednar said. “I think that we’re going to come out, we’re going to play hard, we’re going to do all the right things."

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