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Avalanche hope to imitate Sharks, play with more desperation in Game 6

Felt San Jose had much better effort in taking series lead in Game 5

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche want to play with more desperation against the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of the Western Conference Second Round at Pepsi Center on Monday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

The Avalanche know exactly what it looks like. San Jose played that way throughout most of Game 5 on Saturday, outshooting Colorado 39-22 and winning 2-1 to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series.

"I kind of felt after reviewing some of that game that they were just the more desperate hockey team, and I'm sure they didn't want to come back to Colorado down 3-2, and they got their win," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said after arriving back in Denver on Sunday. "Now we're going to have to have that same type of desperation tomorrow."

 

[RELATED: Complete Sharks vs. Avalanche series coverage]

 

Bednar said he is confident the Avalanche will push back strongly.

"When we've reviewed games with our group, even in this series, and showed them some of the things that we didn't like and where we needed to be better, our team's been really responsive," he said. "They've implemented things we've shown them into games, and if we challenge their competitiveness, it's gone up. And I don't feel like it's going to be any different tomorrow, to be honest with you."

Adjustments may be essential, but major changes to their tactics and game plan are not, according to captain Gabriel Landeskog, who said he won't be changing his leadership style because Game 6 is a must-win game for the Avalanche.

"I'm not much for speeches, personally," said Landeskog, who has a goal and an assist in the series and six points (two goals, four assists) in 10 Stanley Cup Playoff games. "If there is something that needs to be said, then I'll say it.

Video: COL@SJS, Gm2: Landeskog tips one past Jones

"You look at Game 2, you look at Game 4 … those obviously are our two wins, but those are games that we've played as close to a complete team effort, 60-minute efforts. Those are the ones that we're going to need tomorrow. We're going to need that effort from everybody. We can't afford any passengers at this point in the season. We want to make sure that this isn't our last game of the season. We want to make sure that we're going back to San Jose and that we have a chance to move on."

Besides more desperation, the Avalanche could use more from their power play. They are 2-for-17 in the series (11.8 percent), including 1-for-16 (6.3 percent) since scoring on their first chance in Game 1.

Bednar has been harping on quicker puck movement with the man-advantage and has also said he wants to see more of an attack mode with more shots on goal.

In Game 5, Colorado was 0-for-3 with one shot on the power play.

"Our execution wasn't great, and special teams played a huge factor in the game," Bednar said. "We have opportunities with our power play to try to get things rolling, and if we can chip one in tomorrow, it'll be a big help for us."

Bednar said he will be cautious about overcoaching in preparation for Game 6.

"We've got some hungry guys here," he said. "We don't want to go home yet. It's an elimination game, so I think you're going to see our team come out and compete hard."

The Avalanche have responded well to pressure this season. They went 8-1-2 in the final 11 games of the regular season despite being without Landeskog for six of them (he missed nine games March 9-27 with an upper-body injury) and second-leading scorer Mikko Rantanen (upper body) for the last eight, clinching the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference with a 3-2 overtime win against the Winnipeg Jets in their penultimate game April 4.

Video: SJS@COL, Gm4: Wilson nets sweet dish from Rantanen

Landeskog said that an elimination game isn't so much different from that adversity.

"That's one of those things that maybe we're going to be talking about tomorrow, and I'm sure the coaching staff are going to point toward that as well, that we've been through some ups and downs this season and we've been counted out numerous times," he said. "For us, we're not going to pack it in just because we're facing elimination. Everybody is going to step up and we're going to need our best team effort tomorrow, and that's the way we look at it. I'm super proud of the group that we have in that room, but our season isn't ready to be over yet."

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