Preview: Avalanche look to reclaim the series

  

After two messy games to start, the Colorado Avalanche fell to the Arizona Coyotes for the first time in the series, bringing the current series tally to 2-1 Avalanche. Going into Monday’s game, the Avalanche yet again have the opportunity to strengthen the series lead over Arizona. It will be crucial to take the 3-1 series lead, as allowing Arizona to tie the series will bolster their resolve and make the next stretch that much harder.

Though the score for the third game in the series was 4-2 Coyotes, the game also saw the Avalanche playing some of their best hockey of the series. They ended with 51 shots on goal following an offensive effort that was stopped only by the incredible play of Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

To secure Game Four, the Avs will need to approach the entire game with the same level of intensity we saw previously and they will need to clean up the defensive errors that cost them late in the game, like the empty-net goal that came just prior to an Avs goal that could have tied things up:

Again, solving Kuemper will be a priority. Without him, the Coyotes would not pose nearly as much of a threat. The Avs will need to throw everything they have at him in the hopes of breaking through. Keeping the puck in Arizona’s end will need to be the move to get on the board, as Arizona has done a decent job of limiting breakout chances from the skill players on the Avs.

Though Joonas Donskoi played last game despite initially being listed as day-to-day, Vladislav Namestnikov did not take the ice. He is still considered day-to-day, so he likely will not be in the lineup for Monday’s game.

Pavel Francouz, who made his official playoffs debut in Game Three, stopped 21 of the 23 shots he faced — two of the goals being empty-netters at the end of the game. We will likely see starter Philipp Grubauer back in net for Game Four, as Francouz didn’t have the kind of performance that would wrest the starting position away.

Players to watch

Andre Burakovsky has been playing well recently, with five points in his last five games. He opened the scoring for the Avs last game, sinking a laser from the blue line. With the Avs powerplay lackluster in the postseason, his goal served to invigorate the team and opened the offensive onslaught late in the game. Several players on the Avalanche have had issues shooting the puck, preferring to take the pass or handle the puck — if Burakovsky can continue throwing his skills at the net, he can easily be a big impact player going forward.

The Arizona top line stepped up in a big way last game, combining for two of the four goals. The first goal of the game came courtesy of Derek Stepan, with an excellent setup by Clayton Keller behind the net. Arizona doesn’t tend to generate meaningful offense without this line on the ice, so I would expect to see them leading the charge as the Coyotes look to even the series in Game Four.

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    Lucas Rozell
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    After two messy games to start, the Colorado Avalanche fell to the Arizona Coyotes for the first time in the series, bringing the current series tally[To continue reading full article, click here: Preview: Avalanche look to reclaim the series]

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