Colorado Avalanche goalie Alexandar Georgiev hopes confidence boost carries through NHL playoff series vs. Winnipeg Jets

Colorado goalie Alexandar Georgiev, right, celebrates with Josh Manson after the Avalanche defeated the Jets in Game 2 of their NHL first-round playoff series Tuesday in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Fred Greenslade/The Canadian Press via AP)

DENVER — Alexandar Georgiev got out of his own way in order to get out of his own head.

The Colorado goaltender began imagining winning and all the feelings that went along with it. By kicking out the negative thoughts, Georgiev snapped out of his shot-stopping doldrums and helped the Avalanche split games in Winnipeg.

Georgiev’s confident he has regained his confidence heading into Game 3 tonight in the Mile High City.

“Have a short memory,” said Georgiev, who allowed two goals in Game 2 after surrendering seven in the series opener against the Jets. “Just try to come with a fresh mind.”

That sort of approach can be applied to Vezina Trophy favorites, too. Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck has surrendered 10 goals in the series.

“I never worry about his confidence,” Jets coach Rick Bowness said. “He’s very confident in himself. He knows he’s an elite goalie. He wants the ball. He loves being in there in these big moments.”

Georgiev struggled down the stretch of the regular season and it followed him into Game 1. There was some thought that backup Justus Annunen, had he not been under the weather, might have appeared in net for Game 2. Georgiev quieted that by turning back 28 shots. He left the ice with a smile amid congratulations.

“There’s been a lot of belief from our room that he’s got that within him,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “That’s the thing: You’ve got to find a way to turn it back around. He did in that game and our team did.”

No matter the position, a little bit of confidence goes a long way this time of year.

“I think for both individuals and a team, having confidence in yourself and as a group and that belief is huge,” Washington fourth-line winger Beck Malenstyn said. “It gets you through those lower times, and it helps you really thrive in those high times.”

One goalie seeking his first career NHL playoff win is Washington’s Charlie Lindgren, who has not been bad despite the Capitals falling behind 2-0 in their series against the Presidents’ Trophy-winning New York Rangers. Lindgren, who carried his team into the playoffs, doesn’t lack for confidence and is feeling good about his play.

“There’s a lot of self-belief,” Lindgren said Thursday. “It stems from obviously work ethic and working hard and feeling good on practice days. When I’m stopping a lot of pucks in practice, that’s going to give me the confidence to go stop a lot of pucks in the game. I think that’s where a lot of it starts from.”

Because confidence, “is the most important thing in hockey,” Avalanche forward Casey Mittelstadt said.


JETS at AVALANCHE, series tied 1-1, 10 p.m. ET (TNT)

The Jets could move defenseman Nate Schmidt back into the lineup in an effort to contain the speed of Nathan MacKinnon and the rest of the Avalanche.

“If we can get (MacKinnon) in the corner and keep him there, we’re a lot happier,” Bowness said. “He’s just so quick.”


RANGERS at CAPITALS, New York leads 2-0, 7 p.m. (TNT)

Changes could be coming for the Capitals, including rookie Ivan Miroshnichenko replacing Nicolas Aube-Kubel on the fourth line. With Miroshnichenko, coach Spencer Carbery is looking for “speed and competitiveness, hard on the puck, physicality, which he’s shown, especially early when he was called up,” Carbery said. “His speed was on display, and he was tenacious all over the ice on the puck.”

The 2022 first-round pick said he wasn’t sure if he was playing but added, “I am ready the whole time.”

Winger Sonny Milano, who missed practice for maintenance, is questionable. Defensemen Rasmus Sandin and Nick Jensen continued skating in no-contact jerseys and are “working their way back,” Carbery said.


CANUCKS at PREDATORS, series tied 1-1, 7:30 p.m. EDT (TBS)

Nashville goalie Juuse Saros gave up three goals on 20 shots in a Game 1 loss to Vancouver. But the 29-year-old goalie shook off the shaky performance by allowing one goal in a Game 2 win.

Saros is looking for the first playoff series victory of his career after replacing Predators legend Pekka Rinne, who almost singlehandedly took Nashville to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Saros started a league-high 64 games and led the NHL with 1,672 saves during the regular season.

Vancouver coach Rick Tocchet isn’t overly worried about how his Canucks have been playing. This is a group that won the Pacific Division.

“There’s a few tweaks that we can do, but I don’t think there’s a major game plan change, to be honest with you,” Tocchet said. “You stick with what got us here. But there are some tweaks I’d like to see us do differently.”


OILERS at KINGS, series tied 1-1, 10:30 p.m. EDT (TBS)

This is the straight season the series between the two that has been tied 1-1 heading back to Los Angeles.

The Oilers have gone 4 of 7 on the power play in the first two games. Edmonton has the second-most power play goals in the postseason so far; second only to the Boston Bruins, with five.

Kings center Anze Kopitar will play in his 95th career playoff game, passing Luc Robitaille for most in franchise history.


AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno and AP Sports Writers Teresa Walker and Joe Reedy contributed to this report.


AP NHL playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/stanley-cup and https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL


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