The Colorado Avalanche’s three-game homestand could have gone worse, but not by much as they lost all three getting only one point from what should have been an advantageous stay at home.
The Dallas Stars were the most recent to take advantage of the struggling Avs team after going into Pepsi Center Friday evening and taking the ever-so-important divisional points home with them.
In a first period that saw the Avalanche playing on their heels right away, Avs starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer stood tall but was unable to keep the Stars off of the score sheet. Stars forward Roope Hinz snuck one through Grubauer’s five-hole with 1:54 left in the period making it a 1-0 game heading into the first intermission.
Hinz later added another goal, this time while shorthanded but once again through Grubauer’s five-hole, and put his team up 2-0 5:39 into the second period. The Avalanche dug themselves an early hole and didn’t seem to have the spark needed to ignite a comeback.
Nathan Mackinnon kept his point streak alive at 13 games adding his eighth of the year and breathing some life into his team on a power-play goal halfway through the second period. Momentum had visibly swung as the goal opened up a flurry of Colorado scoring chances and the Avs ended the second period in control of what had become an intense game.
The second intermission was a momentum killer for Colorado though, as Dallas was able to keep the Avalanche at bay throughout the third period and the game ended without another goal and a disappointed Avs squad as they head into the second night of a back-to-back for the third consecutive weekend.
Philipp Grubauer showed up ready to play Friday evening looking sharp from the get-go, stopping a handful of breakaways throughout the game and keeping his team in it with some crucial save sequences in the third period.
His numbers aren’t amazing, sitting at a .918 save percentage and a 2.68 goals-against average, but what they have been is extremely steady. In his ten games played, Grubauer has had lower than a .900 save percentage only twice and has had above a .930 four times, proving that he has consistently brought a solid game to each of his starts so far.
Power play ups and downs
The Avalanche power play continues to bask in mediocrity sitting right in the middle of the league, where it has all season. The goal from MacKinnon was indeed on the power play, showing us there is some hope to be had with the man advantage, but this came after they had given up a shorthanded goal earlier in the period.
The power-play goal was capable of getting Colorado back in the game and even provided some energy and confidence, but ultimately going 1-for-5 on the evening keeps them consistent with their current 21% success rate. It would be nice to see them among the league’s best in this category which would be closer to the 25-30% range.
Defense got sloppy
Colorado’s blueline seemed to be a step off Friday night against the Stars. The got caught pinching pretty frequently and gave up far too many odd-man rushes.
The Stars’ top line consisting of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Alex Radulov really gave the Avs defenders a tough time in the Colorado defensive zone as well. The Avs defense wasn’t a gleaming issue, but some attention to defensive coverage will be necessary from the Colorado coaching staff.
Start was slow…again
Coach Jared Bednar frequently points to his team’s inability to start games on time and Friday night was no different. In fact, Bednar was so bothered by Colorado’s lack of intensity and focus to start the game that he was visibly animated during his postgame press conference, something we rarely see from the mild-mannered coach.
When the Avalanche kicked it into gear, they looked like the better team, much like we’ve seen from them numerous times throughout the year. For Bednar it seems like one of his biggest struggles is getting his team to play hard and focused for the full 60 minutes.
The Avalanche get a shot at immediate redemption as they will faceoff Saturday night in Arizona against a Coyotes team looking to even up the season series at one apiece. Puck drop will be at 7 PM MST.