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Avalanche seek 'best effort yet' to finish off Flames in Game 5

Have won three straight in Western series behind Rantanen

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche are intent on closing out the Calgary Flames in Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS, ALT).

Colorado has won three straight games to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series and is trying to advance beyond the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2008, when it defeated the Minnesota Wild in six games.

"I think the biggest thing is not to think about the outcome, (but) to think about the process you have to go through in order to win hockey games," coach Jared Bednar said Thursday.

"Our goal is to repeat our performance, better our performance, and the last one is the hardest one to win, and we all know that. It's going to take our best effort yet, especially going into Calgary."


[RELATED: Complete Flames vs. Avalanche series coverage]


The Avalanche rallied late in the third period and won 3-2 in overtime Wednesday in Game 4 at Pepsi Center. The same scenario played out in a 3-2 win in Game 2 at Calgary.

"I've learned that we believe," Bednar said. "Our belief system is strong, we want to win, our will is there and when you keep pushing, anything can happen."

Video: CGY@COL, Gm4: Rantanen ties game late, wins it in OT

Mikko Rantanen scored at 10:23 of overtime Wednesday, one-timing Carl Soderberg's cross-ice pass. Rantanen scored a power-play goal to tie it 2-2 with 2:50 left in the third after Colorado cut it to 2-1 on J.T. Compher's goal off a rebound at 8:10.

"The regular season, the way we finished with really strong play from the team, we came back when we were down in a lot of games," said Rantanen, who has six points (three goals, three assists) in a three-game point streak. "We always fought back, and I think that tells the story of our team, the mentality that we have."

The Avalanche came back from trailing 2-0 in three consecutive games in the final week of the regular season: a 3-2 overtime loss at the St. Louis Blues on April 1; a 6-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers on April 2; and a 3-2 overtime win against the Winnipeg Jets on April 4 that clinched a playoff berth.

Rantanen missed the final eight games of the regular season with an upper-body injury he sustained March 21 at the Dallas Stars. He returned for Game 1 against the Flames and had one shot in a 4-0 loss.

"He had the injury that set him back a little bit," Bednar said. "Now I feel like he's got his feet underneath him. He missed a lot of those games where our team really had to dial it up from a competitive standpoint, and (for him) to come in in a series, that can be hard, to get back in the playoffs where it's a whole other intensity level. I feel like he's raised his intensity now, and he's playing well and he's finding a way to score."

Rantanen had two shots in Game 2 and fed Nathan MacKinnon for the overtime goal, his second assist; a goal, an assist and six shots in a 6-2 win in Game 3; and two goals and seven shots in Game 4.

"I feel better and better after every period," said Rantanen, who had 87 points (31 goals, 56 assists) in 74 regular-season games. "You take some injury time and then you try and come back right away and try to help the team as much as you can.

"I think the last couple games have been better, so now we just have to keep rolling. We're playing really well, not just me. Every guy on our team has been playing really well, so it's been fun."

The Avalanche don't want to give the Flames any hope of coming back in the series.

"Tomorrow is really important," Rantanen said. "We know they're going to be fired up ready to play in their barn, so we'll have to be ready. I think we have the confidence right now, so we just have to play our game like we did the past couple games."


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