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Avs, Devils, Leafs in Need of Jolt

  • Colorado Avalanche center Alexander Kerfoot (13) celebrates with Tyson Jost (17) and Mikko Rantanen (96), of Finland, after scoring a goal against the Nashville Predators during the third period in Game 2 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series Saturday, April 14, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

  • Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35), of Finland, and defenseman Roman Josi (59), of Switzerland, celebrate after beating the Colorado Avalanche in Game 2 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series Saturday, April 14, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. The Predators won 5-4 to take a 2-0 lead in the series. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

  • New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider (35) replaces Keith Kinkaid in the net during the second period of Game 2 of an NHL first-round hockey playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Saturday, April 14, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

  • New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac (19) celebrates his goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning with teammates, including Taylor Hall (9) and Will Butcher (8), during the third period of Game 1 of an NHL first-round hockey playoff series Thursday, April 12, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning won 5-2. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

  • As hats litter the ice and Toronto Maple Leafs players head for the bench, Boston Bruins' David Pastrnak is congratulated at the bench after scoring his third goal of the night, during the third period of Boston's 7-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 2 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series in Boston Saturday, April 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

  • As Toronto Maple Leafs' Auston Matthews, right, skates away, Boston Bruins' David Pastrnak (88) is congratulated by Torey Krug (47), Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron after he scored his third goal of the game ,during the third period of Boston's 7-3 win in Game 2 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series in Boston on Saturday, April 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

  • Boston Bruins' David Pastrnak, left, is upended by Toronto Maple Leafs' Nikita Zaitsev during the second period of Game 2 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series in Boston, Saturday, April 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

  • New Jersey Devils left wing Taylor Hall (9) shoots in front of Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) and defenseman Anton Stralman (6) during the first period of Game 2 of an NHL first-round hockey playoff series Saturday, April 14, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

  • Nashville Predators left wing Austin Watson (51) scores a goal against Colorado Avalanche goaltender Jonathan Bernier during the third period in Game 2 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series Saturday, April 14, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. Avalanche's Blake Comeau (14) and Matt Nieto (83) also defend. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

  • Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie (4) falls over Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35), of Finland, during the second period in Game 2 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series Saturday, April 14, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)



Monday, April 16, 2018

Denver — Nathan MacKinnon is counting on 18,000 of his rowdy friends to give the Colorado Avalanche a little bit of an extra buzz.

Maybe even throw Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne off his game.

Trailing the top-seeded Predators 2-0 in the first-round series, the Avalanche returns tonight to a building that’s certainly been something to write home about this season. Their 28 wins at the Pepsi Center in the regular season tied the franchise mark held by the 2000-01 squad that went on to capture the Stanley Cup.

“We have lots of confidence here,” said MacKinnon, whose team has dropped 12 straight to the Predators. “The building has been a lot of fun this year.”

Colorado isn’t the only team hoping a change of scenery provides a change in momentum — Toronto returns to friendly confines down 2-0 in the series against Boston. The New Jersey Devils are in the same boat versus Tampa Bay heading into their first playoff home game since 2012.

Then there’s the San Jose Sharks, who are sitting pretty after two road wins against Anaheim. Now at home, the Sharks get last change and the opportunity to dictate matchups.

“It’s a nice luxury being at home, having those matchups,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “The bigger advantage is the crowd and the environment and being able to sleep in your own bed.”

For New Jersey, climbing back in the series boils down to this — avoiding big early deficits. They trailed the Lightning 3-0 in Game 1 and 5-1 in Game 2 before staging a comeback.

“We need to play as a group,” said coach John Hynes, who plans to make some lineup changes. “We can’t have passengers.”

MacKinnon said the Avs need to clean up the little things against a savvy Predators team.

“We’re in a tough spot right now,” MacKinnon said. “Two games at home. Hopefully, we can even up the series.”

The Predators fully expect a more tenacious rush from a youthful Colorado squad.

“They’re persistent,” Nashville forward Austin Watson said. “There’s no quit in them.”

Encore

Boston hopes David Pastrnak packs his Game 2 performance for the trip to Toronto. The 21-year-old had three goals and three assists to become the youngest NHL player with six or more points in a playoff game, surpassing Wayne Gretzky, according to the Bruins website.

“When you’re breaking a Wayne Gretzky record, I hope he realizes at his young age how cool it is,” forward David Backes told reporters. “Hopefully he had fun last night and enjoyed that moment because it is special.”