For 57 minutes, the Avalanche were on their way to victory. For 57 minutes, they continued to prove to the NHL that they are not a team to be reckoned with.
Playing its second game in two nights, Colorado held a 1-0 lead until the final three minutes before surrendering three goals, one into the empty net, and falling 3-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday at the Pepsi Center.
The Avalanche (22-10-3) had four shots in the third and just two after scoring to take a 1-0 lead early in the period. Their goaltender, Philipp Grubauer, was having an exceptional night, stopping everything the Hurricanes threw his way before a couple of defensive breakdowns, most notably on the second goal, gave Carolina a 2-1 lead.
“It’s a 1-1 hockey game, two minutes to go. The D gets caught standing along the boards,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “They go down and score on the 2-on-1. Three different guys could’ve broken that up.”
The game-winning goal was scored by Colorado native Jaccob Slavin on a one-timer set up by Lukas Wallmark. It came just 1:17 after Andrei Svechnikov tied the game.
“They get a 3-on-1. It’s a tied hockey game with two minutes to go,” winger Gabe Landeskog said. “It’s disappointing. We played hard last night, had a really good game last night, actually. We come in here and try to follow it up and we fight and work for 40 minutes of the hockey game. The power play gets us one and then, you have to be able to finish those games. Those are the games that are playoff-type games.”
The Avs’ loss is just their second in regulation over the past 12 games. They currently sit three points back of the St. Louis Blues for the Central Division lead with one game in hand.
Johnson returns. After missing 11 games due to injury, Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson returned to the lineup. He played 20:47, recording three shots and five blocked shots.
“I thought he was good,” Bednar said. “I didn’t mind him at all. He looked pretty good for missing the time that he did. He made some plays, pretty plays with the puck.”
Grubauer was strong, despite the loss. Grubauer finished with 37 saves, stopping the first 34 before his shutout bid came to end in the final moments. At a time when backup goalie Pavel Francouz continues to string together wins, it was perhaps a performance from the starter that says he’s not ready to give up the crease just yet.
Grubauer fell to 10-7-2 on the season.
Zadorov benched. Zadorov played a team-low 10:26. According to Bednar, It was a coach’s decision.
Stat of the Night
Landeskog’s opening goal was his second goal and fourth point over the past four games. After starting the season with eight points in 14 games, the Avs captain is starting to heat up offensively.