The Avalanche were looking to finally right the ship, to break out of their 3-6-2 stretch. But in a game where they played nearly 60-plus minutes of good hockey, the result was the same—a crushing 3-2 defeat, this time to the Dallas Stars in overtime after leading entering the third period.
This is the sixth time Colorado (25-15-6) has lost a game when leading at any time in the third period since mid-December. The game-tying goal the Stars scored in the third was the 24th third-period goal against in the past 12 games—one more than the Avs had surrendered over the first 34 games of the season.
“I thought we were engaged start to finish,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “Played hard, checked hard, worked hard defensively. I thought we played really hard, I don’t know how else to summarize it. It just seems like right now anything that can go wrong will go wrong and at the end of the night you just got to keep grinding.”
The Avs outshot the Stars in each of the three periods before overtime, peppering Dallas goalie Ben Bishop with 43 shots in regulation. Bishop’s third-period play kept the Stars alive and gave them an opportunity to tie the game.
“I liked our approach in the third period, we were up a goal and still going after it—we didn’t want to sit back,” Bednar said, as the Avs had 11 of the first 13 shots in the third. “We hit a couple posts, had a couple grade-A chances.”
Colorado led 2-0 after the first, taking a multi-goal lead into the intermission. The Stars scored what appeared to be a power-play goal early in the second, but Bednar challenged the play for offsides and was successful for the fifth time this season—a league-high among offside challenges.
Minutes later, Avs forward Mikko Rantanen was called for tripping and Dallas scored a power-play marker that counted, beating Colorado’s Philipp Grubauer to make it 2-1 before the third.
“I thought our second was okay—bad penalties, lucky bounce for them on that goal, I thought,” defenseman Ryan Graves said. “We played a decent game again, we just kind of need to find a way to come out on top.”
“Their goalie made some nice saves. We had a lot of momentum even in the third, I thought we took it to them. The shots at one point were 45-20. I think we deserved to win that game.”
Colorado falls to 0-0-2 on its current five-game homestand. Two of the remaining three games before the All-Star break will be against teams at the bottom of the Western Conference, while the third will be against the Central Division-leading St. Louis Blues.
Make no mistake about it, the Avalanche are well aware that they need to break out of this slump and fast. Today’s game is a step in the right direction, despite the loss.
“It’s about the process, it’s about habits,” Bednar said. “They were really good tonight, real good commitment. Again, if you play like that most nights, you get two points.”
Colorado hosts the San Jose Sharks at 7 p.m. MST on Thursday, looking for its first victory in almost two weeks. The Avs are 0-2-2 since defeating the New Jersey Devils.
“You know even if you ride it out, you’re trying to fix it,” Graves said about Colorado’s losses. “I think it’s something that, well put it this way, it’s not going to last all year.”
Strong out of the gate. The Avalanche started the first period strong, dominating the pace of play and imposing their will offensively. The top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabe Landeskog and Rantanen were responsible for six of the 15 shots and were on the ice for both first period goals.
Undisciplined play was almost costly. While the Avalanche dominated pace of play in the first period, they also were able to stay out of the penalty box. The two second-period penalties nearly cost the Avs the game in regulation. But after the fortunate offside review, Colorado came away only giving up one goal.
Calvert and Benn drop the gloves. In one of the more scrappier tilts of the season, Avs forward Matt Calvert fought Dallas captain Jamie Benn. The two men had a three-sequence exchange that began when Calvert dropped his gloves and challenged Benn, who skated away without accepting the fight. But off the ensuing faceoff, the pair squared up, both landing haymakers.
Stat of the Night
MacKinnon assisted on both Avalanche goals, his 40th and 41st of the season through 46 games. His career-high is 58, which he achieved first in 2017-18 and matched last season.