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Postgame Wrap-Up: Avs Ready to Focus on Playoffs

Colorado falls to San Jose in final game of regular season

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche and the San Jose Sharks already knew who their first-round opponents were going to be when the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin next week, but the teams still had one more item on their to-do lists before they could officially turn their attention to the postseason.

The Avs and Sharks met in Game 82 and Colorado fell 5-2 at SAP Center on Saturday, ending a 10-game point streak (8-0-2).

Colorado found out before puck drop in San Jose that it will face the Calgary Flames in the postseason, while the Sharks have known that they will host the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round for a bit now.

"Today, I didn't think the game was played with a real high intensity level, you know, both teams knowing where they sit," Avs head coach Jared Bednar said of the game in San Jose. "I liked our energy and the way we skated, but I look at every goal and we made a mistake on every goal.

"Season's over, we got out of it healthy, which is very important, and now we are moving on and we will shift our focus to the playoffs and to the Calgary Flames."

Video: Coach Jared Bednar after the regular season finale

The loss in San Jose was Colorado's first since March 15 versus the Anaheim Ducks. Before the Avalanche's game on St. Patrick's Day, the squad sat six points out of the second wild-card spot, but it went on its 10-game run to jump three different teams to reach the playoffs.

The Avs finished the year tied with the St. Louis Blues for the best record in the league since March 17, as each club wrapped up the main campaign with 8-1-2 marks.  

"I have loved our habits and determination down the stretch, I mean to sort of kick down the front door and get in the playoffs and go 8-0-2 down the stretch [to clinch a playoff spot], I think is a real good sign so we should be confident," said Bednar. "We know we are playing a real good opponent so there is going to be challenges, but I think we are in a good spot from a mental state of mind, from a physical side. I don't mind our team game at all right now."

Colorado concluded the 2018-19 regular season with a 38-30-14 mark. 

AVS TO FACE FLAMES IN FIRST ROUND: The Dallas Stars defeated the Minnesota Wild 3-0 on Saturday night to secure the first wild-card spot and lock the Avalanche into the second wild-card position in the Western Conference.

As the eighth seed in the West, Colorado will face the Calgary Flames for the first time in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

Video: Ian Cole on the Avs' focus now on the playoffs

"They are a great team. They are going to be a huge challenge but for the most part I think we played pretty well against them," said defenseman Ian Cole. "We are going to continue to try to do that. They are very dangerous so we certainly need to be on our toes every shift."

The Avalanche has earned back-to-back trips to the NHL's second season for the first time since making 11 straight appearances from 1994-95 to 2005-06 

The full schedule with dates and times for the first-round matchup will be posted on ColoradoAvalanche.com on Sunday morning. NHL Network and NHL.com will unveil the entire first-round schedule at 8 a.m. MT.

Limited remaining tickets for Games 3, 4 and 6 (if necessary) of the Avalanche's first-round series at Pepsi Center are on sale now at AltitudeTickets.com.

99 FOR MacK: Nathan MacKinnon used his speed on a transition play and beat San Jose goaltender Martin Jones to score his 41st goal of the season, bringing his career-high point total to 99 (41 goals, 58 assists).

Video: COL@SJS: MacKinnon turns on jets and tucks home goal 

Bednar pulled goaltender Semyon Varlamov in favor of the extra skater with about four minutes remaining in the game, and MacKinnon was on the ice for almost the entirety of the 6-on-5 to try and reach the century mark.

"He probably played three and a half minutes of the last four with an empty net [and on] the power plays," Bednar said of MacKinnon. "I think that is why the 6 versus 5 probably wasn't as effective as it could have been because everyone wanted to get it over to Nate so he could touch it before we made something happen, and he was pushing it. I think at that point in the game, the game is on the line but its two goals, it is the last couple minutes. I would love to see him get 100 too but just didn't happen. Scored a great goal tonight though."

CAREER YEARS: Multiple Avalanche players set new career highs for points in a season this year. Included on that lists are forwards Matt Calvert (26), J.T. Compher (32), Tyson Jost (26), Gabriel Landeskog (75), Nathan MacKinnon (99), Mikko Rantanen (87) and defensemen Tyson Barrie (59) and Samuel Girard (27).

In addition, Compher (16), Landeskog (34), MacKinnon (41), Rantanen (31) and Carl Soderberg (23) each set new personal bests for goals in a campaign. 

Seven Colorado skaters also set new highs for assists in a season. The list includes forwards Compher (16), Alexander Kerfoot (27), Jost (15), Landeskog (41), Rantanen (56) and defensemen Barrie (45) and Girard (23)

Goaltender Philipp Grubauer set new career highs by playing in 37 games and earning 18 wins, and his three shutouts this year were also tied for his NHL high.

COACH'S CHALLENGES: Avalanche bench boss Jared Bednar used his coach's challenge to review a San Jose empty-net tally at 16:59 of the third period.

Joe Pavelski scored the goal for San Jose, but video review showed that the Sharks were offside when entering the zone, invalidating the marker.

It was the fourth straight game that Bednar used his challenge in, and he was successful in three of those four (Monday at the St. Louis Blues, Tuesday versus the Edmonton Oilers and Saturday in San Jose).

Colorado finished the year 5-4 overall on challenges this season and 3-1 on offside calls.

MORE AVALANCHE NOTES: Four players played their 82nd game of the season, the club's most since the 2015-16 season (five). Nathan MacKinnon and Carl Soderberg played all 82 contests in a campaign for the third time in their respective careers, while Matt Calvert and Samuel Girard played every outing of the regular season for the first time. Girard has played 149 consecutive contests, the longest active ironman streak on the team. 

Tyson Jost extended his point streak to three games, matching his career high (three times - last: Nov, 24-28, 2018).

Samuel Girard registered his fifth multi-point game of the season.

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