Well, it was a slightly better performance by the Colorado Avalanche compared to what we saw on Thursday evening.
But not by much.
For the second straight game, Colorado failed to find the back of the net, and after the first 10 minutes of the game, struggled to connect on pretty much anything, losing 4-0 to the Buffalo Sabres. It wasn’t as sloppy as it was against the Penguins, but it wasn’t a whole lot better. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was only forced to make 23 saves in net for Buffalo, as he recorded his first career NHL shutout.
The Avalanche have not scored on a goaltender in 132:13 of playing time.
Colorado was “led” offensively by Ryan Johansen’s six shots on goal, and the powerplay ended the evening going 0-for-6.
After an ugly game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Avalanche needed to come out a lot cleaner against the Sabres, and for about 10 minutes, they did just that.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen kept the Sabres in it early, making a handful of big saves. The fourth line had a great shift with some chaotic action around the net, but couldn’t get the puck past the young goalie. Ryan Johansen was stopped on a wide open chance in front, and Mikko Rantanen had a one-time shot stopped off the rush. It seemed like the Avalanche were going to break through, but the ugly habits from the prior game started to creep back in.
Josh Manson had an opportunity to dump the puck in, but instead chose to try and do a little too much on a zone entry, turning the puck over in the process. Jeff Skinner brought the puck in, and had his original shot blocked, but the puck bounced right to JJ Peterka. The 21 year old forward found himself all alone in front, and beat Alexandar Georgiev on the glove side, giving the Sabres the early lead.
From that point on, it was all Sabres, as Colorado was generous with the puck, to say the least. Georgiev held his ground, making some big saves on a late powerplay to keep it a one goal game. Zach Benson took a late penalty, giving the Avalanche a powerplay to start the second period.
Not only did the Avalanche not do anything with their powerplay, but the top unit stayed on the ice for the entirety of it, and Nathan MacKinnon made a mental error with the Sabres player coming out of the box.
Cale Makar had jumped into the play to create a chance, but his pass missed everyone. Rather than back off with the Sabres player coming out of the box, MacKinnon pinched in and got beat badly. Buffalo came down on an odd-man rush, and Casey Middelstadt beat Georgiev on the short side, making it 2-0.
The Sabres soon extended their lead to three, taking advantage of Colorado’s inability to win an offensive zone face-off. Owen Power dumped the puck out the neutral zone after Buffalo won a face-off against MacKinnon, creating a rush opportunity for his team. Alex Tuch fed Tyson Jost in the high slot, and his shot beat Georgiev on the blocker side. I didn’t get a clear replay to see if the puck deflected off Byram’s stick, but either way, that goal more or less put the game out of reach.
The rest of the period was filled with more sloppy play from Colorado, and a dangerous hit by Kyle Okposo on Makar. The defenseman would leave the game, but did return in the third period, although he kept coming back and forth from the locker room. An upset Nathan MacKinnon had some choice words for the referees, and was forced to spend the next 12 minutes of the game in the box because of it.
You’d think Makar returning to the bench would give the team a boost, but it didn’t really breathe any life into Colorado. The Avalanche had a few more powerplays, but nothing came of it. MacKinnon hit the post later in the third on a backhand, but the Avalanche couldn’t find a way to get anything past Luukkonen.
Rasmus Dahlin added a late empty netter, giving the Sabres the 4-0 victory.
With back-to-back 4-0 losses, the Avalanche drop to 6-2 on the season. Only one of their new additions up front has managed to score an even strength goal.
Colorado will return home on Wednesday to take on the St. Louis Blues, and all eyes will be on whether or not Cale Makar will be good to go. Sometimes things like this can seize up with a few days off, so it will be something to monitor.