On Thursday morning, Jared Bednar said he wanted his Colorado Avalanche squad to display the habits and consistency necessary to win on a nightly basis.
I’m not so sure he got that from his team on Thursday night.
Los Angeles came to town and slowed down the Avalanche right from the get go, giving up very little in terms of high-end chances. At the other end, they took advantage of what the Avalanche gave them, on their way to a 5-2 win over Colorado.
The loss is the fourth in the past five games for the Avalanche, right on the heels of a 14-2-2 run from the squad. Consistency continues to be an issue for a team that seems to be having trouble getting up for regular season games.
Evan Rodrigues and Nathan MacKinnon scored the goals for Colorado. Alexandar Georgiev stopped 26 of the 30 shots he faced.
Adrian Kempe and Phillip Danault led the way for Los Angeles with two goals each. Anze Kopitar assisted on three of the five goals, and Joonas Korpisalo stopped 28 of the 30 shots sent his way.
The Kings didn’t generate a ton of chances in the first period. They did, however, take advantage of the few they were given.
At 8:37 of the first period, a Cale Makar pinch left Devon Toews defending a two-on-one the other way. Kopitar out-waited the defender, and passed the puck across the ice to a wide open Kempe. He fired the puck past a stretching Georgiev to give the Kings the early one goal lead. The goal came on the first official shot on net for the Kings.
With under three minutes left in the period, the Kings found the back of the net again. Kopitar dug the puck out of the corner, and hit Vilardi at the bottom of the circle. The young forward labeled a shot perfectly short-side on Georgiev, giving the Kings the two goal lead.
The Avalanche did kill off two penalties in the first period, and while they generated more shots than the Kings, none of them were particularly dangerous. They needed a better effort in the second period.
What they gave was a bit of a mixed bag. They created some more chances offensively, but weren’t great defensively, and the powerplay was quite bad.
The first powerplay unit could not even enter the zone on both of their attempts, leaving fans a little restless. The second unit at least found a way into the zone. By doing that, they created a little bit of momentum, which paid off soon after.
After some extended zone time back at even strength, the puck came to Sam Girard at the point. He fired a one-timer towards the net, and Rodrigues deflected the puck past Korpisalo to cut the lead to one.
The Avalanche came close to tying it just moments after the goal, as Nathan MacKinnon was left all alone on a breakaway, but the star forward fired the puck just wide.
At the other end of the ice, Georgiev did his part to keep the game close, stopping Trevor Moore on a breakaway late in the period. The Kings eventually took that one goal lead into the third period.
And on the opening shift of the third, the Kings capitalized on another mistake by the Avalanche.
Toews failed to connect on a pass out of the corner, giving the puck back to Los Angeles. The puck rimmed around, and eventually wound up on Kempe’s stick in front of the net. The Swedish forward outworked Toews for positioning, and sent a spinning backhand through Georgiev. Just 24 seconds into the period, the Avalanche were down by two again.
The powerplay finally got it together four minutes later to bring the home team back within one. After a few denied entries by the Kings, the Avalanche chose to dump the puck in. The change-up worked, as they recovered the puck along the wall. Makar sent it to MacKinnon at the right circle, and star forward fired it past the glove of Korpisalo, cutting the lead back to one.
But it did not stay that way for long.
Just 15 seconds later, a lost defensive zone face-off proved costly. Danault won the puck cleanly, and headed straight towards the net, untouched by any Avalanche defender. The Jordan Spence shot was tipped in by Danault, and the lead was right back to two for the Kings.
The Avalanche pushed a little bit late, but Danault added an empty net goal with under three minutes remaining, sending the Avalanche to their fourth loss in five games. Three of those four losses have come to teams they could realistically face in the playoffs.
The Avalanche now have to win their next game to at least salvage this home stand. On Saturday, the Arizona Coyotes come to town. The game starts at 4 PM MST.