Avalanche at Sharks: Three keys to Game 5 | VailDaily.com

Avalanche at Sharks: Three keys to Game 5

Mike Chambers
The Denver Post
San Jose Sharks defenseman Justin Braun, right, checks Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Bourque during the third period of Game 4 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series Thursday, May 2, 2019, in Denver. The Avalanche won 3-0.
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Special teams. A similar performance to their Game 4 showing in this area is needed. The Avs scored a rare power play goal Thursday night and went 2-for-2 on the penalty kill. And they committed just two penalties that led to San Jose power plays. Colorado’s discipline and execution were both strong in all facets of special teams and will need to be back on San Jose ice.

Mac and Mikko. Hey, if NHL playoff points leaders Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen can’t be stopped then the Avs might not be stopped. They are just too good offensively, and up to this point, they have been remarkably consistent. MacKinnon extended his league-best playoff points streak to eight games with the all-important first goal in Game 4 and Rantanen was the offensive MVP of the game with two primary assists. They enter Game 5 with a league-high 13 playoff points each.

Neutral-zone flow. The Avs are 6-3 in the playoffs and 14-4-2 in their last 20 games overall. They know what makes them successful, and it starts with limiting neutral-zone turnovers and creating a sustained offensive attack. Their defense — from goalie Philipp Grubauer to the defensemen and defending forwards — has been excellent and there is no reason to think that will change. The uncertain elements have been clean offensive-zone entries and a sustained attack. If they are able to be solid in those two areas, the Avs could be in a series-clinching scenario Monday night in Game 6 at the Pepsi Center.

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