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TAMPA, Fla. — The plan is to go from bad, to much better, to defeating the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions on the road.

That’s the Avalanche’s focus entering Saturday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena.

Colorado (1-3) opened its three-game road trip making all kinds of mistakes and getting so-so goaltending from Darcy Kuemper in Tuesday’s 6-3 loss at Washington. The Avs played considerably better on Thursday at Florida, and backup goalie Jonas Johansson was solid, but they failed to capitalize on enough opportunities and fell 4-1.

The Capitals and Panthers are a combined 7-0-1, and the trip concludes with the Stanley Cup preseason favorites against the back-to-back champions. Tampa Bay (2-2) is looking for its first win at home, where it is surprisingly 0-2.

“Three really good teams (and) us obviously trying to find our footing here and getting a lot of things right,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said Friday about what this week means. “The three main things for me: It starts with our work. I think we’ve got more to give in the work department, in the competitive department. There’s two sides of that, too. It’s our checking and the urgency we defend with, not just being satisfied, kind of sort of getting the job done.

“We have to get a little bit more competitive and a little hungrier on the offensive side, be willing to work for our chances, and be harder to play against on that side. It starts with our attention to detail. The game plan, the structure hasn’t been great, and then we’ve lacked poise with the puck, too.”

Translation: Find a way to win or lose a fourth consecutive game — something the Avs didn’t do throughout the 56-game regular season of 2021. They did, however, lose four straight to the Vegas Golden Knights to get eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.

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Bednar will mix up his line combinations against the Lightning. He had Jayson Megna on the line with Darren Helm and Andre Burakovsky on Friday, and promoted rookie Martin Kaut to the second line with center Nazem Kadri and J.T. Compher. Forward Tyson Jost, however, took a maintenance day with minor ailments, so Megna could again be the odd man out on Saturday.

“There’s a lot of things I didn’t like about (Thursday’s) groupings and some things I did. I think it was a step forward from the previous game but we’ve still got a long way to go,” Bednar said. “There are some guys I need more out of and we’re going to try to drive a little bit more out of them. Some of it is work-based and some of it is lack of detail, so we’re going to fix our lines up a little bit here and see if we can find something that works.”

The Avs will have a morning skate at Amalie Arena. There’s a chance defenseman Devon Toews will be cleared and make his season debut against the Lightning. Toews has been recovering from off-season shoulder surgery.

Kuemper is expected to start in net.

Source : https://www.denverpost.com/2021/10/22/avalanche-at-lightning-preseason-stanley-cup-favorite/

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