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5 Keys: Avalanche at Sharks, Game 5

Colorado must stay disciplined on offense; San Jose needs to score on power play

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist


10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

Best-of-7 series tied 2-2

The San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche will play Game 5 of the Western Conference Second Round at SAP Center on Saturday.

When a best-of-7 series has been tied 2-2 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the winner of Game 5 has won the series 78.4 percent of the time (207-57).


[RELATED: Complete Sharks vs. Avalanche series coverage]


The Avalanche are 3-16-5 at SAP Center since 2008-09 but won 4-3 there in Game 2.

Here are 5 Keys to Game 5:


1. Take care of the puck

The Avalanche adjusted in their 3-0 win in Game 4. Knowing the Sharks wanted to stifle their rush game, they stopped trying to force plays and were more disciplined, taking what they were given, dumping the puck and forechecking.

The Sharks didn't handle it well, too often throwing the puck into space and turning it over. 

Now it's their turn to adjust. They need to break out of the defensive zone cleanly and move the puck up the ice methodically.

"It's going to be all about what we do in here, the way that we know that we have to play the game to be successful, the way that we've been playing all year," Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson said. "I think that they did a good job last game handling their part, and I don't think that we did a good enough job handing the part that we need to do to be successful."


2. Get to the middle

Once the Sharks reach the offensive zone, they have to get off the perimeter. Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer had a 32-save shutout in Game 4 but wasn't tested enough.

Simple playoff stuff: more shots from the slot, more traffic in front.

"We can do a better job of getting to the net, for sure," Sharks forward Logan Couture said.


3. Limit MacKinnon, Rantanen

Avalanche forwards Nathan MacKinnon (six goals, seven assists) and Mikko Rantanen (five goals, eight assists) lead the playoffs with 13 points each. 

MacKinnon is on an eight-game point streak (six goals, seven assists) and has five points (three goals, two assists) in this series. He can tie Claude Lemieux, who had a nine-game run (eight goals, eight assists) in 1997, for the second-longest playoff point streak in Avalanche history behind Joe Sakic's 10-gamer (12 goals, five assists) in 1996.

Rantanen has four assists in four games in this series.

"I think we've done a pretty good job of not really giving them much," Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon said. "But what we have given them, they've taken full advantage of."


4. Capitalize on the power play

Neither team has been effective on the power play in this series. Colorado is 2-for-14 (14.3 percent). San Jose is 1-for-11 (9.1 percent).

But the Sharks' power-play goal came with the goalie pulled at 19:49 of the third period of Game 2, a 4-3 loss. In Game 4, the Sharks had a power play the last 20 seconds of the second period and the first 1:40 of the third down 1-0. They failed to score, and the Avalanche made it 2-0 on the power play at 3:11.

"We've had chances to change momentum in games, especially last game," Couture said. "We get that one at the end of the second and do nothing with it, kind of kill our momentum. Then we give up one right away." 


5. Keep pressuring Burns

In Games 1 and 2, Sharks defenseman Brent Burns had seven points (three goals, four assists) and eight shots on goal. In Games 3 and 4, he had no points and four shots on goal. He made mistakes with and without the puck.

"You start playing against certain players, you start picking up on tendencies and what they like to do, how they like to move before they shoot and if there's any cues there that you can look at to try and find those shooting lanes," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "We did a better job of that. We did a better job denying him the puck a few times in the offensive zone.

"And to be honest with you, last game we kept guys off the front of our net a little bit better too, so when he was shooting and he had a few shots we were able to let Grubauer see him without guys cutting in front of him for screens and tips."


Avalanche projected lineup

Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen

Colin Wilson -- J.T. Compher -- Alexander Kerfoot

Matt Calvert -- Carl Soderberg -- Matt Nieto

Gabriel Bourque -- Tyson Jost -- Derick Brassard

Samuel Girard -- Cale Makar

Nikita Zadorov -- Tyson Barrie

Ian Cole -- Erik Johnson

Philipp Grubauer

Semyon Varlamov

Scratched: Sven Andrighetto, Mark Barberio, Ryan Graves, Vladislav Kamenev, Patrik Nemeth

Injured: None


Sharks projected lineup

Timo Meier -- Logan Couture - Gustav Nyquist

Evander Kane -- Tomas Hertl -- Joonas Donskoi

Marcus Sorensen -- Joe Thornton -- Kevin Labanc

Micheal Haley -- Barclay Goodrow -- Melker Karlsson

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon -- Erik Karlsson

Joakim Ryan -- Justin Braun

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Scratched: Dylan Gambrell, Tim Heed, Lukas Radil, Radim Simek, Antti Suomela

Injured: Joe Pavelski (undisclosed)


Status report

Donskoi is expected to return after missing the past five games with an undisclosed injury. He will replace Radil. ... Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said Pavelski has started skating but won't play. ... Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said there could be lineup changes but didn't elaborate. staff writer David Satriano contributed to this report

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