The closer it gets to the playoffs, the tighter the games are going to get.

The Avalanche learned that the hard way at Ball Arena on Wednesday, falling 3-1 to a desperate Vancouver Canucks team fighting for their playoff lives. Colorado was unable to climb out a two-goal deficit and Canucks captain Bo Horvat put the game away with an empty netter to end the Avs’ four-game winning streak.

All the goals on both sides came in the third period.

“Margin for error is going to get smaller and smaller playing desperate teams,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said.

Colorado’s starting goalie Darcy Kuemper and Canucks goalie Jaroslav Halak were perfect through 40 minutes, stopping and 18 and 24 shots, respectively. Halak finished the night with a 32-save performance.

The Canucks struck first just 1:23 in the third period. Avs defenseman Josh Manson gave the puck away along the boards to Elias Peterson, who fed it to Brock Boeser for the goal. Vancouver added another tally less than two minutes later after J.T. Miller cleaned up the rebound of a 2-on-1 attack.

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Both Canucks goals were the result of mishaps from the Avs.

“I give Vancouver a lot of credit,” Bednar said. “The difference in the hockey game, we had a couple of turnovers in the third period and we blew a reload and then the D pinched on it and gave him them an odd-man rush. At the end of the day that was the difference.”

Colorado quickly climbed back into the game thanks to a power-play goal. After failing to capitalize on their first three opportunities, Nazem Kadri beat Halak from right above the crease to give the Avs life. The Avalanche had another opportunity with the man-advantage afterward but could not capitalize.

“They did a nice job of keeping us on the perimeter,” Bednar said of the Canucks’ penalty kill.

Andrew Cogliano made his Avalanche debut, playing mostly on a line with Darren Helm and Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Cogliano had a shot, hit and minor penalty in 8:14.

“That line was good. They worked hard, they put the puck in, they were physical down low,” Bednar said. “They were creating some chaos in the offensive zone. They didn’t get a ton of ice time but they were good.”

Colorado’s penalty kill was successful once again, killing off the only advantage Vancouver had on the power play. The Avalanche have now killed 19 consecutive penalties.

“We made a lot of adjustments, completely switching the whole system up,” said Avs forward Logan O’Connor, who plays a large role on the PK. “At the start, I thought we were really good then we went through some growing pains. Then we’re bringing in new personnel so we’re trying to keep them up to speed with what we’ve got going on. Guys are making adjustments, but I think the biggest thing is just trying to be assertive out there.”

Aarif Deen
 is our Colorado Avalanche beat reporter. He covers Avs games live from Ball Arena and attends practices, media availabilities and other events pertaining to the Avs on the daily beat. He is also a co-host of Hockey Mountain High: Your go-to Avalanche Podcast. Deen joined Mile High Sports upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department as the assistant sports information director.
Follow him on Twitter @runwriteAarif

Listen to “Avalanche Trade Deadline Recap” on Spreaker.