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Avalanche need to limit turnovers, play workmanlike hockey in Game 4

Errors have proved costly against Sharks, who lead Western series

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- The Colorado Avalanche are going to have to play workmanlike hockey to even the Western Conference Second Round against the San Jose Sharks.

"It's not going to be pretty all the time, but if you repeatedly do the right things, you're going to get rewarded for it," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said after an optional practice Wednesday.

Colorado trails San Jose 2-1 in the best-of-7 series with Game 4 at Pepsi Center on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).


[RELATED: Complete Sharks vs. Avalanche series coverage]


After falling behind early in Game 3 on Tuesday, a 4-2 loss, the Avalanche tried to force the play in an attempt to get things going which led to a number of critical turnovers. 

"We have to be more responsible with the puck," Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen said. "We turned over too many pucks, especially in the first two (periods). We kind of played into their strengths. They want to play counter hockey and play in the (offensive zone), have long shifts.

"You don't want to go (down) 3-1 back to San Jose, so we know what we have to do to get the win. I believe in every guy on this team and I believe everybody does, so it's going to be a big fight tomorrow, but we're ready."

The Sharks' top line of Logan Couture, Timo Meier and Gustav Nyquist combined for eight points (four goals, four assists) Tuesday. Meier gave San Jose a 2-0 lead at 18:42 of the first period after intercepting a stretch pass by Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson, and Couture, who got his first Stanley Cup Playoff hat trick, scored at 12:50 of the third period for a 3-2 lead following a turnover by Gabriel Landeskog.

Video: SJS@COL, Gm3: Couture restores lead for Sharks

The goal came 1:05 after Avalanche forward Matt Nieto tied the game.

"We weren't really good with the puck last game and it cost us," Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov said. "We had too many turnovers. They're a skilled team, they have really good top six forwards who can score goals. When you turn the puck over, it's giving them good scoring chances."

Bednar said after the game that the Avalanche made some "boneheaded decisions." They watched video Wednesday and he is hopeful they learned enough to make smarter decisions.

"I think (the Sharks) are doing a really good job getting above the puck, getting above checks," Bednar said. "Last night, it looked like we wanted to be a rush team when they're not going to give that to you. If they're not going to give it to you, you have to find other ways to work around it and become successful.

"To me, it's having the mindset that we're willing to be patient and disciplined with our decisions. If we got to go forecheck, then so be it, and eventually, we'll come up with a puck and we can play some offensive zone time and create some scoring chances that way.

"It's going to be a little bit of a different mindset for our group that we haven't had recently and in going through the season, but it's something we're going to have to make an adjustment to."

Avalanche forward Matt Calvert, who missed Game 3 because of an upper-body injury, practiced while wearing a regular jersey and might play Thursday. Calvert was injured in Game 2 on a hit by Sharks defenseman Brent Burns as he passed to Nathan MacKinnon for an empty-net goal with 1:02 left in the third period for a 4-2 lead in an eventual 4-3 win.

"First skate for me in two days," Calvert said. "We're going to talk to the trainers and re-evaluate. Feeling good. I'll have to see after practice, see how I feel and go from there."


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