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Avs Resilient Character On Display

The Avalanche forced a Game 6 with a 2-1 win in Nashville on Friday

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele /

Many times throughout this season, the Colorado Avalanche has showed how strong a group it is and refused to surrender.

Down 3-1 in its first-round series with the Nashville Predators, the Avs once again demonstrated the character they have in a young dressing room and earned a chance to play another game.

The Avalanche had its season on the line on Friday when it went into Bridgestone Arena and defeated the Nashville Predators 2-1 to cut the Preds' lead to 3-2 after five games of the teams' first-round, best-of-seven series.

The game was scoreless until midway through the third period when the Preds got the puck past Avs goaltender Andrew Hammond on a deflection off a skate. But, like it has all season, Colorado continued to push and scored twice in the final five minutes to win and force a Game 6.

"It's something that I have seen time and time again this year, whenever the team seems to get in a hole or their back is against a wall, they seem to respond in the best way possible," Hammond said. "[After Nashville scored in Game 5], it seemed like we had a little more determination to get one, and fortunately we got two in regulation to win it. But, backs against the wall in an elimination game, seems to bring out the best in us again."

Facing the Presidents' Trophy-winning Predators and another do-or-die contest in Game 6, the odds are stacked against Colorado, but the Avs temperament hasn't changed.

After the thrilling comeback Game 5 victory, the Avalanche returned to Denver with a business-minded attitude heading into its next meeting with Nashville.

"A lot of character and they're learning how to win. I think that is what you need," head coach Jared Bednar said of what the Avs' even-keel demeanor heading into Game 6 shows. "If you're going to win, at some point enjoy your wins and struggle through your losses, and then turn the page. I think that is what our guys are learning.

"It starts with our leadership. I think Landy is doing a real nice job there, [Nathan MacKinnon], [Blake Comeau], some of our experienced guys. Even [Hammond], coming in--that was one of the biggest games he's had in his career I'm sure--and he stands on his head. Talking to him, he's already moved past it and looking forward to [Game 6]. I think that approach is a winning approach, and it's what we're going to have to do."

Although Landeskog has been the captain of the Avalanche for six seasons, he is still only 25 years old and is playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in his career.

The Stockholm, Sweden, native has risen to the occasion and has recorded four goals and seven points, both the most among any player through the first five games of this series.

"I think this time of year everybody wants to step up, everybody wants to play better," said Landeskog. "I think for me personally, missing the postseason a handful of years now, I know how hard it is at this point to get to the playoffs. You just want to make sure you leave it all out there and that can be said for a lot of guys in our dressing room. Production or not, I think a lot of guys have stepped up and I think that's a big key for our success so far."

The Stanley Cup Playoffs bring the biggest games of the year, something a lot of the Avs players are experiencing for the first time.

When the postseason began, only half of the players on the Avalanche roster had played in the NHL's second season and this series has seen nine Colorado skaters make their playoff debut.

However, the young group is refusing to quit and allowing that to define the 2017-18 Avs.

"Maybe our youth a little bit, maybe some guys don't realize the size of the moment," Landeskog said of what has brought his team together to create such raw chemistry. "But for us, it's just a matter of being aggressive, having that swagger and playing with that confidence and at the same time going out there and playing hard. That's the way we have had success in the past, by working hard and all season long that's something that's been a staple to our game and that's something that we got to keep doing."

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