The Avs have been finding ways to get games to overtime of late; the problem has been closing them out.
For the second consecutive game, the Avalanche let the extra point slip away, this time losing 2-1 to the struggling Chicago Blackhawks. The Avs have now lost each of the last three games in which they’ve gotten to the extra period, leaving valuable points on the board in their pursuit of a playoff spot.
The game did not start out the way the Avalanche wanted, which has been a troubling trend for the team on the road. After spending significant time in their own end early in the game, a bad bounce ended up in the Avs net. Chicago defenseman Erik Gustafsson was attempting to pass the puck to Patrick Kane at the side of the Avs net, but the puck never made it that far, deflecting off Patrik Nemeth’s left skate and right behind Semyon Varlamov. That would be the only goal of the first period.
In the second period, the Avalanche started to show they were the better team. They controlled 55% of the shot attempts, and late in the second period, were able to earn a power play after some zone time. With the man advantage, Tyson Barrie did a great job creating space and drawing players to him before finding Nathan MacKinnon (who else?) on the far side, who ripped it behind Chicago goaltender J-F Berube to tie the game at one.
The MacKinnon goal would be the only goal in the second period. The only goal that counted, that is. Some horrendous defensive work by Nemeth and Barrie on a two-on-two allowed Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad to create some magic and Saad looked to have given the Blackhawks the 2-1 lead. However, a review from the league would show Saad kicked the puck deliberately into the Avs net and was never able to get his stick on it, so the goal was disallowed, giving the Avs a huge break and sending the game tied into the third.
The teams would trade chances in the third period, but neither club was able to put one in the net. Chicago’s best chance came off some questionable defensive zone work by the Avs, where Jonathan Toews found himself all alone in the slot, only to be robbed by the glove of Semyon Varlamov. The Avs would have their best chance late, as J.T. Compher was all alone in front but missed the net completely on a great chance. That missed opportunity would send the game to overtime, but the extra period did not last long.
After losing the opening faceoff, Duncan Keith hit Patrick Kane with a pass along the boards. Kane found himself with Tyson Barrie covering him but was able to spot a streaking Jonathan Toews on the backside who would one-time the pass into the net, giving the Blackhawks the 2-1 victory. The entire overtime lasted only 9 seconds, but that was plenty of time for the Avs to lose yet another potential point.
The team now has to rebound and find a way to win on the road where they have struggled this year — winning only 12 games — as they head to Columbus on Thursday to take on the Blue Jackets. The game starts at 5 PM MST.
- Since the Avs did not create much offense early in the game, Jared Bednar was forced to change up his lines, breaking up the big line and putting Nathan MacKinnon between Tyson Jost and J.T Compher, while having Alexander Kerfoot center Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog. While Kerfoot’s line stayed relatively quiet all game, MacKinnon’s line created the majority of the team’s chances in the second and third period.
- J.T Compher has struggled mightily lately with no points in 13 games but started to show signs of life this evening, finding himself in position for several chances. Unfortunately, he was not able to bury any of them.
- The coaching staff didn’t like Nikita Zadorov’s game early in the game and sat him down for a six-minute stretch in the first. That seemed to get Zadorov going as he played much better the rest of the night and played over 23 minutes in total.
- The injuries on the blueline have left the Avs with a third pairing of Duncan Siemens and Anton Lindholm. Neither one of these players is particularly adept at moving the puck, and it shows, as they spend a lot of their time on the ice chasing the opposition.
- Semyon Varlamov bounced back from a sub-par performance against Nashville and played a huge role in the team getting one point tonight. He was particularly strong early when the Avs were sloppy and ended the night with 25 saves.