For the second consecutive season, the Avalanche will play in Game 7 of a Western Conference semifinal series.
The Avs fell a game short of advancing to the conference final in May 2019 with a 3-2 loss at San Jose. If they are to avoid the same fate this time around in Edmonton, here are three keys for the deciding game against Dallas:
1. Carry momentum. Dallas has lost two straight games and produced just 15 shots combined in the second and third periods of Game 6. The Avs put up their best defensive performance and won the only relatively low scoring game of the series, 4-1. (Colorado’s fourth goal was an empty-netter). The Stars were 26th in scoring during the regular season and perhaps their surprising playoff scoring spree has come to an end. The lower the score, the better chance Colorado has to win. It has the more dangerous offense — even with all of its injuries.
2. Special teams. The Avs need to get their power play clicking. They are 0-for-11 in the man-advantage over the past two games, 1-for-16 in the last three, and 3-for-28 in the series. Coach Jared Bednar said Thursday he has discussed switching up personnel but will probably stick to the same two units and hope they claw out of their slump. That’s because the first unit, in particular, is so talented with Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Nazem Kadri and Gabe Landeskog — the latter of whom’s status remains up in the air for Game 7. As for the penalty kill, the Avs will try to duplicate their showing in Game 6, when the Stars had just one power play, and limit Dallas’ man-advantage opportunities. That’s not likely, so the PK guys have to be sharp.
3. No excuses. This team has won all season with some of its best players on the injured list, and this injury-depleted lineup isn’t about to give in. But now Landeskog, the captain, is questionable Friday from a skate-blade cut above his right knee in Game 6 and rookie Conor Timmins also left that game. The Avs are already without its top two goaltenders, defenseman Erik Johnson and forwards Matt Calvert and Joonas Donskoi. Bednar no longer provides injury updates and said he’ll just play the guys he has available. Besides Makar and MacKinnon, this team believes it can advance with anyone on the shelf.