Coach Jared Bednar wants his Colorado Avalanche to play with “passion” in Game 5 against the Tampa Bay Lightning

DENVER — Colorado has a chance to clinch its first Stanley Cup since 2001 with a win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Friday, and the Avalanche are managing their emotions accordingly.

Instead of running away from natural nerves, coach Jared Bednar encourages his players to use them as fuel to perform at their best on the puck drop.

“You always hear about controlled emotion. I’m kind of the opposite with our team,” Bednar said Friday. “In addition to running and going out of our game plan, I want us to use our energy, our nervous energy and our emotions to go play the game with passion, play hard and stay on our toes and chase it. That’s my message to our team, has been all year. I want to exploit that. I want our team to go on the attack.”

The Avalanche took a 2-0 lead over Tampa Bay in the Cup Final thanks to two strong performances at home. A 6-2 thrashing by the Lightning in Game 3 was Colorado’s most lopsided loss in the playoffs, and it responded with a hard-fought 3-2 overtime victory in Game 4.

This offered the opportunity to potentially hoist the Cup at home on Friday night. It’s the Avalanche’s biggest game of the season to date and a monumental moment for the franchise. Colorado intends to stay free from that pressure by treating the tilt like any other along the way.

“You stick to your routine and you know you have to go play a hockey game tonight,” JT Compher said. “We had some things that we talked about cleaning up before Game 5 tonight, and we’re just focusing on ourselves, making sure we’re mentally ready to play a good game of hard hockey, checking the good way and to do all the things that allowed us to succeed.”

Nor is it lip service to Colorado. The Avalanche remained impressive even faired throughout the playoffs. They have gone 15-3 so far remaining mentally resilient, consistent in their ways and focused on the controllable.

Cliche? Maybe. But that’s the truth behind Colorado’s dominance.

“Our success process hasn’t changed, doesn’t change,” Bednar said. “There have been minor adjustments to the series, we have spoken to our group about all of this. Every game throughout the season, it was the same type of preparation as today. We break down the games five minutes at a time, doing what we need to do to be successful. You don’t preach it all year and practice it all year only to throw it away at the most important time of the year.

The Avalanche are also aware that the Lightning, two-time Cup champion, will not leave quietly. They expect a desperate opponent and an urgent push from Tampa Bay early on. Colorado scored the opening goal in three of the series’ four games, a pattern it continued — with great returns — throughout the playoffs. But the Avalanche can’t stop there.

“Would you like to start, we did this at home [a lot]”, Compher said. “But it’s going to be 60 minutes. We talked about it. The hardest [game] winning is the one that closes a team, especially a team like this. So we know that whether or not the start goes our way in the first five, 10 minutes, it’s going to be a 60-minute effort, maybe even more. We will be ready to play our way for as long as it takes.”

Colorado could also add a key player to the roster for Game 5. Andre Burakovsky missed both games in Tampa with an apparent hand injury suffered in Game 2. He had scored twice in the series before to come out with the disease, and after Burakovsky appeared at Avalanche morning practice, Bednar considered him “a possibility” to play in Game 5.

“He was playing really well before he came out,” Compher said. “He plays with a lot of speed and skill and he’s great to get into the area and create scoring chances and then he has a hell of a shot. If he’s able to go there we’d love to Otherwise, that’s what we’ve had to deal with all through the playoffs, just the next guy that comes along.”

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