CENTENNIAL, Colo.--The Colorado Avalanche returned to the Mile High City having earned a 1-1 tie with the San Jose Sharks in the teams' Round 2 matchup in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Avs dropped the best-of-seven series opener 5-2 at SAP Center on Friday night at SAP Center but fought back to get the split in San Jose with a 4-3 win on Sunday.
Colorado also lost Game 1 of its first-round set with the Calgary Flames and bounced back with victories in the final four contests to advance after five outings. Having been in this position before, the team will use what it learned in that experience and keep its foot on the gas against the Sharks.
"It is a big difference getting that 1-1 split or being down two. After losing Game 1 that is definitely what we wanted, coming back with a split," said Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog. "It is sort of similar to what we had against Calgary, it is also just one win. We got to make sure that we duplicate that effort now tomorrow.
"We will come out and establish home-ice advantage and take care of our games here on home ice. It is short memory in the playoffs, we talked about it after Game 1, but it is just as important after Game 2 here after a win. It is a big win, but we got to make sure we come out and do it again."
Colorado found itself down 1-0 after the first period in Game 2 on Sunday afternoon, but the Western Conference wild-card squad scored twice in the second to take a lead that it never relinquished.
Head coach Jared Bednar attributes the success in the middle frame to all five skaters on the ice working cohesively as a group to execute offensively.
"I didn't really like our play through the neutral zone in the first period. I thought our commitment and our competitiveness to defend was fine, and we were getting on some pucks in the forecheck but we didn't get enough pucks in behind their D," said Bednar. "In the second period, we wanted to bring our guys back a little bit further and try to create our attack as a five-man unit--just stay a little bit more connected. I thought we did a really nice job of that in the second period especially.
"In the second, we got more firm with the puck, we put pucks in behind their D and created a forecheck--we came up with some loose pucks. Then we started to find a little bit more room to attack in the neutral zone as well. Our forwards got the puck delivered to them on time from our defense, and it kind of helped our pace and execution as the game went on."
Colorado had an optional practice on Monday with just a few skaters taking the ice ahead of Tuesday's Game 3.
The puck is scheduled to drop at 8 p.m. MT for the third game of the series at Pepsi Center. The Avs won both of the contests in their own barn during the first round and have won their last eight outings at their home rink (including the regular season).
"We are excited for Game 3 at home," said Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer. "The Pepsi Can is going to be loud again, and we are excited for that. You can't look any further than that, so we stay in the moment.
"My first [playoff] game against Calgary at home, that was pure excitement hearing the crowd for 60 minutes. We are looking forward to this one."
Defenseman Cale Makar on being paired with Samuel Girard: "It is really fun to play with him, he is a fast guy and very dynamic. When you have two guys who can move the puck fast and guys that like to go up the ice really quick, it is fun to play together."
Video: Cale Makar on his playoff experience so far
Goaltender Philipp Grubauer on Makar and Girard: "Huge confidence in those guys. They can move the puck, they can skate. The way they communicate with each other and break the pucks out, that is huge and that is what we need in the playoffs to get out of our zone."
Video: Philipp Grubauer on the Avs' series vs. the Sharks
Left Wing Gabriel Landeskog on defending the Sharks' defensemen: "As a forward you want to get out there and take away as much time and space for them. You want to get out as close as possible to them to take down that shooting lane but its also hard, you come out with too much speed against them they are going to probably deke you and go around you."
Video: Gabriel Landeskog on coming home tied 1-1
Head Coach Jared Bednar on playing at Pepsi Center: "You look at Round 1--the atmosphere in the building, the energy in the building--the guys feed off of that. I'm hoping that continues here in the next couple of games. It's a big couple of games in this series and we have a chance to come out at home and play hard in front of our fans, win some games. Again, that atmosphere and energy really helps our team. I think our guys feed off it, they've always liked playing at Pepsi Center. Even though we weren't great at the start of the year, down the stretch and down in the playoffs we've been really good."