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As Clock Strikes Midnight, Avs Turn Focus to Game 5

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

By the time the Colorado Avalanche returned to Denver early Friday morning, the team had already put the Game 4 loss behind them.

That's because of head coach Patrick Roy's "midnight rule." It's not a curfew for the players but rather a way for the team to not get too high on wins or get too low and dwell on the losses. When the clock hits 12 a.m., the game and the result of the previous day is put in the rear-view mirror and the focus goes on to what is next.

It has been one of the ways that the Avs have stayed even-keeled throughout the season.

Colorado's 2-1 loss in its series with the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night can be considered one of those lows. The Avalanche only fired 12 shots on net in the contest (tying a franchise-record low), and the Wild tied the playoff series at 2-2.

"The way I have been all year, I've been very positive and I will continue to be today," said Roy as he opened up his postgame news conference. "I'm looking more at how our goaltender played. It was again very solid. I thought we did a good job defensively in some ways."

Semyon Varlamov had another great game as he made 30 saves in Game 4, bringing his total saves for the two contests in Minnesota to 75. His defense also did a solid job by blocking attempts and forcing shots wide. Of the Wild's 62 shots attempted, only 32 made it to Varlamov.

However the Avs were not happy with the way they played on Thursday night, or in their 1-0 overtime loss in Game 3 on Monday. Forward Ryan O'Reilly, who scored Colorado's only goal, gave Minnesota credit for playing well on its home ice but noted that the Avalanche didn't play its best.

"It's more us beating ourselves," O'Reilly said. "Obviously, they play a great game. They want it more. They're boxing us out. They are not making turnovers. They are getting pucks deep, and we're not doing that. We're not getting pucks deep like we need to, pressure their 'D'. We have to get back to those basic and simple things that worked for us all year."

O'Reilly was one of a full locker room of frustrated and disappointed players after the game, and Roy said he was glad to hear that was the case when the subject was brought up in his postgame news conference.

"If they're happy about losing a game, there would be a problem," Roy said. "The guys are not happy. Actually I'm glad to hear that because that is the way it should be. We all know deep inside we could do better."

Captain Gabriel Landeskog said the team took too many shots from the outside without putting bodies in front of Minnesota goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

"We're certainly not executing the way we should be. Certainly makes them look a lot better," Landeskog said. "We’re still not testing this goalie enough. We're making him look good by taking shots from the outside and no one being in front. Certainly making him look good, and that's something we have to change."

It's now a best of three as the series moves back to Pepsi Center where the Avalanche won the first two games of the series.

The Wild seemed to feed off a franchise-record crowd at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday, just like the Avs did in their home building for Games 1 and 2. The home crowd will be a welcome sight in Game 5 on Saturday for Colorado.

"We're excited to get back home and have the crowd behind us and get back to work," Paul Stastny said. "You lose two tough games here, but that's fine, that's part of the playoffs. We knew it was going to be a tough series. We knew nothing was going to come easy. It's 2-2 now, it's a best of three, and we have to use our home ice to our advantage."

Game 4 is in the past. Time to move on. The Avs already have.

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