Avalanche slow out of the gate in loss to Arizona

Oct 11, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen (96) shoots the puck in the first period against the Boston Bruins at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After a well-deserved victory over the Arizona Coyotes before the holiday break, the Colorado Avalanche did not have to wait long to face them again.

Unfortunately, things would not go in the Avalanche’s favor this time, as they would fall 3-1 in a disappointing home appearance.

The Coyotes would quickly get on the board first, as Coyotes forward Tobias Rieder received a pass by the back post, and snuck the puck past Semyon Varlamov to give the Coyotes the 1-0 lead only 54 seconds into the game.

However, the Avalanche would answer with a goal of their own, as Mikko Rantanen received a long stretch-pass from Erik Johnson, Rantanen fired a shot past Antti Raanta to tie the game at one goal apiece.

(Video courtesy of SPORTSNET)

Things would remain quiet until the 10:34 mark of the second period, when Coyotes forward Alex Goligoski fired a puck from the middle of the circle that would beat Semyon Varlamov, taking the 2-1 lead over the Avalanche.

The Avalanche would be able to mount some pressure towards the end of the second period, but they were unable to come up with the equalizing goal heading into the final frame.

The Coyotes extended their lead late into the third period, as Lawson Crouse finished off a highlight reel play, sneaking the puck past Varlamov to give the Coyotes the 3-1 lead, and ultimately the goal that would be the breaking point for the Avalanche.

“I didn’t think that we were willing to skate with the puck,” coach Bednar said in regards to his team’s overall performance. “I thought we were light on the puck for most of the night, and our execution was poor.”

Currently, at the start of a six-game homestand, the Avalanche will be looking to bounce back quickly from this loss. However, it will be no small task as the remaining teams coming to town are all currently in playoff positions.

“This is a long homestand for us and we have to get it started much quicker than that,” Avs defenseman Mark Barberio said. “I thought that there were too many turnovers, and that was from everybody. Turnovers are able to kill you in a game, and it bit us tonight.”

A long break during the holidays is something that usually puts many teams behind the eight-ball in the NHL, and the Avalanche fell victim to it once again, as Colorado hasn’t won the game immediately after Chrismas since the 2011-12 season. To be able to keep pace with the rest of the division, the Avalanche will have to recapture their rhythm.

“Just getting back to what works for us, and playing smart and simple hockey,” Barberio stated. “When opportunities are there to get in the zone and make plays, we have to take them, but if they are not there we cannot force them, and make sure that we are playing hard in the d-zone. That has given us success, and we got away from that tonight.”

The Avalanche will look to get back to their winning ways tomorrow night, as the Toronto Maple Leafs come into town. Faceoff is scheduled for 7pm MT, and the game will be televised on Altitude Sports Network.

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