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Second Round

MacKinnon says Avalanche 'didn't fight back' in Game 5 loss

Point streak ends in loss to Sharks that pushes Colorado to brink of elimination

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

SAN JOSE -- The end of Nathan MacKinnon's point streak in the Stanley Cup Playoffs left the Colorado Avalanche without enough offense against the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Second Round at SAP Center on Saturday.

MacKinnon had 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in an eight-game streak that ended in a 2-1 loss that pushed Colorado to the brink of elimination.

Its season would end with a loss in Game 6 of the best-of-7 series at home Monday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

 

[RELATED: Complete Sharks vs. Avalanche series coverage]

 

"They outplayed us early," MacKinnon said. "They were really good. We couldn't weather the storm. They had some really good chances and hemmed us in. We didn't fight back. I thought we had a pretty good second (period) but it was too late."

MacKinnon had one shot on goal playing 22:49 in Game 5. Of his eight attempted shots, four were blocked and three went wide. Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog each had two shots on goal after the line combined for 41 in the first four games.

"They have a plan to play against [MacKinnon] like we do against some of their other guys," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "And I don't know if it's anything different, but their guys worked tonight and they checked hard on that top line and I didn't think the top line was great for us tonight. They'll have to be better.

"There are areas of our game tonight, not just for that line but for our whole team, where we have to check harder than we did. So we gave up too much. Our best player was our goalie (Philipp Grubauer, who made 37 saves), no question about it."

The Sharks have focused on trying to limit MacKinnon's line and might have done their best job in Game 5.

"When you're defending him, you're defending as a five-man unit," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "So our forwards are as important, but obviously those guys (defensemen Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic) get the bulk of the minutes. I thought they were great against him. Good sticks, good gaps, world-class players.

"I think we've done a good job on him all series. I think the results and the goals show you what a great player he is, and we haven't given him a lot of room and he's still finding a way to produce. But it was nice to keep him off the board tonight."

Bednar said he was concerned the Avalanche were outworked for much of the game, but that he was not worried that they were disappointed.

"It's disappointing because you knew someone at the end of the night was going to be facing elimination," he said. "They've been working all year to try to get to this point and keep moving on, so it's disappointing. It should be. And there should be a little bit of frustration because we know we didn't play as good as we can play. We'll look at some things on video, we'll turn the page and get ready to go. We've got to go win Game 6. That's what our focus will become, but for now, I think it's good that we're disappointed a little bit."

Colorado won Game 4 at home and is 3-1 at Pepsi Center this postseason. The Sharks and Avalanche have alternated wins in the series.

"It's certainly been a close series," Colorado defenseman Ian Cole said. "They're a good hockey team. They're not going to give up. They're not going to roll over just because they won a hockey game and we're not going to roll over because they won a hockey game. I expect Game 6 to be at a level of desperation which hasn't been seen yet. We wouldn't expect anything less."

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