In each game of a best-of-seven series, both teams learn more about the other and use that knowledge to adjust for the following outing.
The Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks have been doing just that in their second-round matchup in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The clubs are tied at 2-2 after the first four contests of the set, with each winning one at home and one on the road.
All season, the Avs have used their speed to quickly move the puck up the ice and into the offensive zone, but the Sharks have adapted in the series to limit Colorado's chances on the rush.
San Jose's defensive scheme was evident in the third game of the Round 2 meeting, a 4-2 loss for the Avalanche, and Colorado used that as an educational experience ahead of Game 4.
"Game 3 was definitely frustrating from an offensive standpoint," said forward Colin Wilson. "They were holding us to a minimum amount of shots, but that's why you made the adjustment. It's why it's a seven-game series, and we learned a lot about our opponent in those games.
"I think we learned that in Games 1-3, so we made the adjustments that we're not going to have a lot of rush attacks. They're a very good at reloading and having a third guy high, so we started getting the pucks in and wearing them down low. I think it showed up in [Game 4]."
The Avalanche earned a 3-0 victory on Thursday following the amendment to its offensive mindset. Nathan MacKinnon scored his third game-winning goal of the postseason, Mikko Rantanen had two assists and goaltender Philipp Grubauer posted his first career playoff shutout with a 32-save effort.
"When you're playing a new opponent, they have different strengths and weaknesses and things that give you trouble and things that you like and see from watching the game and then reviewing it on video," said head coach Jared Bednar. "We have to make sure that we're selling that to our team and areas where we can become more consistent or better and create more or give up less, I guess is basically what we're trying to do.
"Again, I thought our guys were excellent in buying into the game plan and finding ways to excel within that game plan [in Game 4]. It was a stingy game, there wasn't a whole lot of chances on either side of it. We just happened to capitalize on some of ours and get a couple saves."
Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar before the trip to San Jose
Looking toward the next outing, Colorado will have to continue to adapt and also look to grow on the success of its most recent performance.
"I felt like last night was our best game of the series. It is going to take at least that or better in order to go in there to win now," Bednar added. "We were the desperate team last night and needed to be in order to make this a series, and now we know we are going to get the same type of effort from them as we had last night. So, they are going to be better and we have to be better as well because last night ends up being a real close game and I thought we played really well."
Puck drop for Game 5 is set for 8 p.m. MT on Saturday at SAP Center in San Jose.