It was a better performance for the Arizona Coyotes in their Game 2 meeting with the Colorado Avalanche on Friday, but not good enough.
The Coyotes find themselves up against the wall on Saturday afternoon when they meet the Avalanche for Game 3 of their best-of-seven Western Conference opening-round series in Edmonton.
After dropping a 3-0 decision in the series opener, Arizona sustained a 3-2 setback on Friday. Andre Burakovsky scored the go-ahead goal with 2:53 remaining in the third period in the latter contest.
The Coyotes aren’t in “must-win” territory yet, but they can ill afford to go down 3-0 in the series and have much of a shot of upsetting the high-octane Avalanche.
The good news for Arizona is it found more of the template to follow heading into Saturday’s contest.
“I’m proud of the way they played. They responded. They were in their faces,” coach Rick Tocchet said of his charges. “That’s more like the way we need to play more consistently. I thought we played a good hockey game.”
“You’ve got to go down swinging and we were in the game. Obviously, the last goal I’m not happy with … but for the most part we had a chance to win that hockey game.”
After a sub-standard outing in the opener, the onus was on the Coyotes to elevate their play. They were every bit as good as the Avalanche on Friday.
“They’re a great team and you’ve got to play a full 60,” Arizona forward Conor Garland said. “We made a good push in the third, but came up short.”
The Avalanche are well aware their opponents will be looking to find even more juice in the game, but have enough experience to realize it’s more important for them to be concerned about themselves.
“We knew they were going to come really hard,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “You read the comments from their coach and from their players about what they felt like that they did or didn’t do or needed to do coming into this game. They played hard, they played real well. We needed to ramp up our competitiveness certainly in our defending.
“I never really felt like we played as well as we could for any large proportion of the game. We know we have to be better than that if we want to win (Saturday).”
Both of Colorado’s wins in this series have come with late goals, but that can also be a sign of a superior team having what it takes to find a way to win.
“I think they out-competed us in the first (period),” Colorado forward Nathan MacKinnon said. “I know it’s kind of cliche but it’s true — they outworked us in our D zone. I thought we actually played good offensively. We had some good looks. Some good possession time. Definitely, our compete level will go up (Saturday) and we’ll have a better effort.”
The big negative for the Avalanche is a wave of injuries.
Joonas Donskoi participated in the warmup on Friday but didn’t play, while Vladislav Namestnikov left the game late in the second period and didn’t return. Bednar listed both as day-to-day.
–Field Level Media