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First Round

Avalanche look to keep pressure on Flames in Game 4

Want to capitalize on momentum after two straight wins in Western series

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The Colorado Avalanche expect the Calgary Flames to be at their best and realize they'll need to respond in kind in Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round at Pepsi Center on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, ALT).

Colorado took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series Monday with a 6-2 win, its second in a row. 

"I think everyone knows how important this one is," defenseman Ian Cole said Tuesday. "A win or a loss, that's quite the turning point, whichever situation you find yourself in. We need to make sure we're doing a good job and doing the things that got us to this place. I think everyone is aware of those things."


[RELATED: Complete Flames vs. Avalanche series coverage]


Cole knows a thing or two about keeping the pressure on an opponent. He's played in 65 Stanley Cup Playoff games and won the Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017.

"Every game is an opportunity to make a statement and change the series," Cole said. "Because we're up there's no time to take a breath and take the foot off the gas. We need to win every single game that we play. We were certainly fighting for our lives in the last 10-12 (regular-season) games. We had to win every game, we couldn't lose any of them, and that's the mentality you have to have in playoffs too."

Video: Makar caps three-day run with goal in Avs' Game 3 win

The Avalanche had 56 shots Monday, their highest total in a playoff game since getting 56 against the Florida Panthers in Game 4 of the 1996 Stanley Cup Final, a 1-0 win in triple overtime.

Their 21 shots in the first period matched the team record for a playoff period. They built a 3-0 lead on two Nathan MacKinnon power-play goals and Cale Makar's first goal on his first shot in his NHL debut.

"We're expecting their best effort tomorrow," coach Jared Bednar said of the Flames. "They're a good team and we have to be ready to start the game the same way. I like a lot of the things that we're doing, and we'll look at some of the things that we can improve on. We'll also make sure we continue to show the things that have given us success.

"The biggest thing for me is you got to repeat the performance that you had in Game 2 and in Game 3 and play the same way and be consistent with it, limit our mistakes and then we'll see how the game goes. That's the most important thing. We've been good, but again, it's only three games out of a seven-game series."

The Avalanche have limited Calgary's top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm to one goal and three assists, and Norris Trophy candidate Mark Giordano to one assist.

"When you have guys that have been as successful this year as those guys have been, you're certainly trying to key on those type of players, guys that have that many points, guys that can create as well as they can," Cole said. "You're never truly going to completely shut them down, but you try to limit their chances and limit their opportunities as best you can. So far we've done a pretty decent job, but the job's not over. We still have two more games to win."

Defenseman Samuel Girard, who missed Game 3 with an upper-body injury, skated while wearing a non-contact jersey before a handful of players took part in an optional practice.

"He's a little bit better today, so we'll see what he feels like tomorrow," Bednar said.

Forward Derick Brassard didn't play Monday because of illness and stayed home Tuesday.

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