Avalanche aware they must be better against Stars in Game 2

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The Colorado Avalanche agree with coach Jared Bednar that their performance in Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Dallas Stars at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Monday (9:45 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS) must be better than it was in their Game 1 loss. 

“Looking at that game, as a team, I think everyone’s able to say that wasn’t good enough, that it wasn’t the product we want to put on the ice,” defenseman Ian Cole said Sunday of Colorado’s 5-3 loss to Dallas in Game 1. “They played well, they forced us into some bad situations, but overall we have to do a better job. Everything [Bednar] said falls pretty much in line with what everyone on our team thinks, and I think that’s good thing to all be on the same page.”

Bednar said that half the Avalanche didn’t show up to play in Game 1. He didn’t like the play of Colorado’s middle-six forwards nor its defensemen. Cole was minus-3, as was forward Andre Burakovsky. Defenseman Nikita Zadorev and forwards Joonas Donskoi, J.T. Compher and Tyson Jost were minus-2.

“It comes down to that we have to be better, us as a middle-six group there but as a team, too,” Jost said. “We have to take it upon ourselves and be better and go out and try to make a difference in the game. It’s a challenge for us, so we have to step up to the plate and own that challenge.”

Video: Kelly breaks down the Stars vs. Avalanche

Bednar said Sunday his opinion about the defensemen remained the same after watching video.

“I know we can be better in making plays that are there and not looking off our first option,” he said. “We overcomplicated things as a group back there and we didn’t skate well. It’s getting back hard for pucks, No. 1, working with our partner and giving our partner some information when he’s going back to get the puck will help, and there are things our forwards can do to help those guys out on some of our breakouts. We’ll address that with the team meeting and get ready to go for tomorrow night.”

Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer is out for Game 2 in Edmonton, the Western hub city, after sustaining an injury and leaving the opener early in the second period Saturday. Defenseman Erik Johnson is also likely out. Bednar said Grubauer and Johnson were being evaluated on Sunday and he didn’t know which defenseman would replace Johnson in the lineup if he couldn’t play in Game 2. Forward Matt Calvert, ruled unfit to play prior to Game 1, is day-to-day.  

As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.

Pavel Francouz will start in goal for the Avalanche in Game 2. Francouz, who allowed two goals while facing 20 shots in 33:30 Saturday, is 1-2 with a 1.59 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in three games (2 starts) this postseason. 

Anton Khudobin is expected to start for the Stars, who have scored 19 goals in their past four games, all wins, after losing 2-0 to the Calgary Flames in Game 3 of their first-round series.

“The quality of the chances remain the same; the shutout (in Game 3) was not a reflection of the quality of chances. We had great chances the last couple of games, the puck has gone in,” Dallas coach Rick Bowness said. “It’s just going back to the same theme all the time, just spending more time in the [offensive] zone, keep getting pucks on net, keep getting our [defense] involved. There’s another team out there and they have another goalie trying to keep the puck out of the net. But when we get the opportunity to put the puck on net, hopefully it goes in, and the last couple of times it has.”

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