DENVER — One single loss after a previous series sweep and a dominating second series opener shouldn't be cause for panic. The top seed in the Western Conference didn't get there without hitting a few speed bumps, but the Colorado Avalanche is built for a long haul. A bump in the road--or even a flat tire, like it looked in Game Two against the St. Louis Blues-- won't detour their destination.
"You can't expect not to get punched in the face in the playoffs," defenseman Cale Makar said. "At the end of the day, it's just regrouping and it's all about us just finding our way to just come back next game and making sure we get back to our game plan."
The Blues stunned the Avalanche 4-1 on Thursday night to even the series in Colorado. Makar registered an uncharacteristic -2 in his effort, and even caused a turnover in the offensive zone in the third period leading to David Perron's second goal of the night and the Blues' third.
"Our philosophy is you're not going to win in the playoffs if you don't bring your best game. Everyone's watched us play all year and last night wasn't even close," head coach Jared Bednar said.
Colorado drew back-to-back penalty calls at the end of the second period to give St. Louis a 5-on-3 opportunity, which it capitalized on with a goal from Perron with 34 second left before intermission.
"You can't expect to go in and play a team like St. Louis, who finished with 100 and whatever points, and think that you're going to win if you're not playing your best. That's how you advance. You play your best hockey throughout the course of a series and hope your best is better than their best. We weren't even close last night and we know it, so it's on us."
The Avalanche held a full practice Friday morning prior to flying to St. Louis. Every player participated for the roughly hour long skate except for Gabriel Landeskog, who has been absent from practices for routine maintenance. Bednar said he was pleased with the effort put forth during the session but the proof will be on game day.
"We've got to go play and we got to go play to our identity. We've done an amazing job of that all year long and especially in games one through five of the playoffs," Bednar said. "We were playing our game and we were dictating the pace and how the game was going to go. Last night was the opposite."
The series now shift to St. Louis for Games 3 and 4 at Enterprise Center. Puck drop for Game 3 is scheduled for 6 p.m. (MT) on Saturday.