Avalanche deflated in first home loss of the year

Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson (71) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the first period against the Colorado Avalanche at T-Mobile Arena.

In their first game home following a season-long six-game road trip, the Avalanche looked uncomfortable in an ugly 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. In what was the second night of a back-to-back set, Colorado was unable to get into a steady rhythm and Ducks backup goaltender Ryan Miller walked away with his third win in as many games this season.

Both Avalanche goals came on the power play; one from Joonas Donskoi at 5:22 into the second period and the second from Nathan MacKinnon 1:38 into the third. Neither goal was able to swing the momentum enough for the Avalanche to get back in the game in what was simply, just a bad game all around for Colorado.

Going a bit more in-depth, here are a few takeaways that contributed to one of the uglier nights we’ve seen from the Avs in a while. 

Pavel Francouz’s rough start

Anaheim’s Adam Henrique scored the first goal of the game on his team’s first shot  50 seconds in so needless to say, the start was less than ideal. After that, it took Francouz a while to recover as he was slow to react and looked a bit shaky during the few rushes from the Ducks that followed the opening goal.

After a few snappy glove saves, Francouz looked to settle in and play a bit better, but 22 saves on 26 shots left more to be desired from the rookie goaltender, despite it only being his fifth career game and third of this young season. 

Avs rough start

The ugly start to the game wasn’t all on Francouz. The Avalanche as a whole, with the exception of a small handful of guys, looked quite shaky themselves. Unlike their goaltender, however, the rest of the team never bounced back.

Missed passes, bobbled pucks while stickhandling and poor defensive reads all dug the Avs into a hole right out of the gate and it didn’t improve as the evening went on. 

Gabe Landeskog’s penalty was a killer

Right before Joonas Donskoi’s goal to open up the Colorado scoring, the Avs had a small window where they were in control of the game and had a bit of momentum. Donskoi got a fortuitous bounce off of Miller and put the Avalanche within striking distance at 2-1 and everything seemingly swinging Colorado’s way.

Shortly after, Landeskog was called for his second minor penalty of the game and Anaheim was able to capitalize on a Ryan Getzlaf wrister that took all of the wind out of Colorado’s tattered sails. 

These couple of penalties along with a few missed opportunities in the offensive end left coach Jared Bednar calling it an “uncharacteristic” game from his captain who has contributed only one point in the last six games.

Nathan MacKinnon’s streak is alive

Nathan MacKinnon is making some early noise for a Hart Trophy candidacy, scoring at least one point in all 11 games so far this season. His power-play goal on Saturday was his sixth goal of the year and he has also added nine assists to his point tally as well. 

This 11 game streak is the longest any player has had to open a season since Wayne Gretzky. It is not MacKinnon’s longest point streak, however, as he went 13 consecutive games with a point in 2013-14 and 14 consecutive in 2017-18. 

 

Cale Makar the bright spot

Makar was magical Saturday night and aside from a few good moments from the fourth line, was really the only positive Avs fans could take from the loss. Makar had a game-high six shots on goal and really stood out with his speed, stickhandling and even hitting. 

Makar was credited with an assist on Nathan MacKinnon’s goal which was good for his ninth assist and tenth point of the season, which remains among the top of all NHL rookies. 

Colorado will rest until Wednesday when they face the Florida Panthers for the second and final time this season. Puck drop will be at Pepsi Center at 8 PM MST. 

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