Frei: What? The Avalanche Weren’t Going to Win them All?
The Colorado Avalanche are winless in February.
All right, that’s a ridiculous way to put it about a team that was 15-0-1 in January. Consider it withdrawn.
But as the expected heavy and extended snowstorm was in its early stages Tuesday night, the Avalanche’s home-ice winning streak came to an end at 18 in unlikely fashion.
After giving up a 2-1 third-period lead, they fell 3-2 in a shootout to … get this … the Arizona Coyotes at Ball Arena.
No, really, to the Arizona Coyotes, who came into the night at 10-29-4. They were +450 on the moneyline. That means, if you bet $100 on them to win, you’re $450 richer tonight. Congratulations! (Now, show us your betting slips for proof).
Overall, the Avalanche also had won 10 in a row and the only time they didn’t get two points in January was a 5-4 overtime loss at Nashville on the 11th.
“Yeah, you want to keep it going,” said Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog. “Especially going into the All-Star break. Whenever it was going to end, it was going to suck. It sucks no matter who it was against, or at home or away, or whatever. The streak in itself, I guess it’s something that’s cool when you look back at the history books or whatever.
“We just want to keep winning and keep putting ourselves in a good spot.”
With goalie Scott Wedgewood off for a sixth attacker, the Coyotes tied it up on Lawson Crouse’s goal at 19:22 of the third and then won it in the shootout. Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen and Nazem Kadri all failed to beat Wedgewood, while Alex Galchenyuk got the puck past Darcy Kuemper on the Coyotes’ second shot in the rotation to secure the win.
The torrid Kadri (19th) and Rantanen (24th) had the goals for the Avalanche, who now — with the exception of Central Division All-Star choices Cale Makar and Kadri — are off until February 10 against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning at home.
“It was going to end at some point,” said Colorado coach Jared Bednar. “It would have been nice to win this one going into the break feeling great and all that, but we’re due for a break. I think our team’s excited to get off for a little while. We’ve been working hard. We’ve been shorthanded. We’ve had guys in and out of the lineup. Hopefully it gets us back healthy.
“I wouldn’t have liked it when it ended at any point. It’s a valuable point, we got it, we played hard. Not going to win all of them.”
The Avalanche (now 32-8-4) had some pedestrian games during the streak, but still managed to win them. For much of the night against the Coyotes, it seemed that was how this one would go down, too, but the Coyotes pulled it out. The one point was little solace for the Avalanche, who got 22 saves from Kuemper.
“We know we’re a good team,” Rantanen said. “We’re capable of a lot of things and we’ve been finding ways to win. I think there’s still some things we know we can be better at. And especially now down the stretch, it’s going to be a tougher schedule for us, with some tough games.
“Obviously you want to build up your season so you finish well in the playoffs, so there’s still a lot of work to do for us, for sure.”
Terry Frei (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Denver-based author and journalist. He has been named a state’s sportswriter of the year seven times in peer voting — four times in Colorado and three times in Oregon. His seven books include the novels “Olympic Affair” and “The Witch’s Season.” Among his five non-fiction works are “Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming,” “Third Down and a War to Go,” “March 1939: Before the Madness,” and “’77: Denver, the Broncos, and a Coming of Age.” He also collaborated with Adrian Dater on “Save By Roy,” was a long-time vice president of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and has covered the hockey Rockies, Avalanche and the NHL at-large. His web site is www.terryfrei.com and his bio is available at www.terryfrei.com/bio.html
His Colorado Hockey Now column archive can be accessed here