The Avalanche’s performance on Thursday against the Edmonton Oilers was forgettable, to say the least. Yes, a rookie goaltender was making his first career start, yes Adam Werner, who had just come off a 40-save shutout the previous game was facing two of the NHL’s most dynamic players in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. And yes, the two Avalanche netminders, Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz were not the only players out with an injury.
But Colorado’s loss was more than just a symptom of a shorthanded lineup. The Avs were dominated in special teams play, leading to four power-play goals for the Oilers, which dropped the Avalanche from 10th in the league to 19th after one bad, albeit very bad, performance on the penalty kill.
“Too many penalties for us, their power play had a night,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “Their special teams were very good tonight and ours weren’t. They had too much room, we were not tight enough on our checking.”
McDavid and Draisaitl combined for 11 points, as both players set career-highs for points in a game. Colorado will face another pair of dynamic players on Saturday in Elias Petterson and Brock Boeser.
“Their best players had a night tonight, and we didn’t,” Bednar added. “I just didn’t think we were very good. We just didn’t seem to have the drive to win this one.”
Defenseman Nikita Zadorov was present this morning, joining the Avalanche in Vancouver and participating in the optional practice with Grubauer. The Avalanche also had Pierre-Edouard Bellemare back in the lineup on Thursday.
It is not yet confirmed if Zadorov or Grubauer will play on Saturday. If not, defenseman Kevin Connauton, who made his season debut in Edmonton, will either play again or be replaced by veteran Mark Barberio.
In goal, the Avalanche will turn to Werner once again if Grubauer is not ready.