Jared Bednar changed his tone after the Colorado Avalanche lost 5-1 to the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Second Round at T-Mobile Arena on Sunday.
“At least we entered the fight tonight and got in it,” the Colorado coach said. “I didn’t like the results. They scored some timely goals; we missed on some opportunities.”
Bednar called out his team’s competitiveness and top players’ production after a 3-2 loss to the Golden Knights in Game 3.
He was more positive after Game 4, even though his top players were shut out, a second straight loss tied the best-of-7 series, and Colorado has been outshot 110-52 since the first period of Game 2.
“I think that our work ethic was fine,” Bednar said. “I think the compete on the puck was much better. We still lost our fair share of the battles, that’s for sure.”
Colorado’s top line of Gabriel Landeskog (zero), Nathan MacKinnon (three) and Mikko Rantanen (two) combined for five shots. Each forward was minus-2. The line has not scored an even-strength point in three games.
Defenseman Cale Makar had one shot and was minus-2.
“I think that they’re frustrated, for sure,” Bednar said. “It’s tight checking, especially for those guys because they’re not just dealing with one line, they’re dealing with multiple lines.”
Landeskog, MacKinnon and Rantanen have matched up often against Vegas’ line of Max Pacioretty, Chandler Stephenson and Mark Stone.
The Avalanche will have the last line change at home in Game 5 on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS). But Bednar said it’s not as simple as getting the MacKinnon line away from the Stephenson line, because Vegas’ line of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith has been excellent at both ends of the ice.
“There’s some heaving lifting there, and we haven’t found a way,” Bednar said. “But they did some good things tonight, and our last bit of execution I thought was poor. We run around in the offensive zone for a little bit. We pass it low to high. Our [defensemen] bobble it. It comes out of the zone. We couldn’t get all five guys on the ice at one time executing at a high level.
“And to me, too many missed passes, bobbled pucks, not recognizing when we have time to make a play. Lots of times you can’t find time, and then when you do and you still kind of mess it up on your own, that starts to get frustrating and it starts to get counterproductive.”
Bednar said the Avalanche hit the post or missed the net too often when they had good scoring chances.
“We’ve just got to find a way to keep working and get a little bit more sustained pressure,” Bednar said. “One of the things we talked about was fighting for our ice and making sure we’re earning every inch of our ice. It’s not easy to find space out there, but you’ve just got to stay with it and eventually someone makes a play. We’ve got some improving to do in that area still.”
The Avalanche are 4-0 at home in the playoffs. Dating to the regular season, they have won 13 straight games at Ball Arena and are 20-0-1 in their last 21 games there.
They went 22-4-2 at home in the regular season, tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the most wins and points (46) at home in the NHL. Their .821 points percentage at home was the highest since the move from Quebec in 1995.
“We’ve got two of the next three games in our building, where we’ve played real well,” Bednar said. “[The top line has] done a great job. And this is going to be a battle. I fully expect our guys to take another step in this series in the home game. Our big line will have to be a big part of that.”