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Avalanche On The Brink After Shockingly Bad Performance, Fall 5-1 To Stars

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Avalanche Stars

In a must-win game, the Colorado Avalanche laid an egg.

A really big one.

Hours after learning that the team had lost Valeri Nichushkin to a six month suspension, the Avalanche, as their head coach described it, looked “frozen” in the first period, getting outshot 16-2 in front of their home crowd and generally looking awful. It got better after that, but only by a little bit. The Stars didn’t let the Avalanche off the mat, getting out to a 3-0 start on their way to a 5-1 victory. The series will now head back to Dallas, where the Stars have the opportunity to eliminate the Avalanche on their home ice Wednesday night.

Casey Mittelstadt scored the only goal for Colorado, while Alexandar Georgiev made 29 saves in the loss. Georgiev was the only reason the game wasn’t a complete blowout after 20 minutes, as his team hung him out to dry.

First Period

The only word to describe the first period from the Avalanche: Woof. Colorado looked like a team hit with a dump truck’s worth of bad news before the game, because they were. Valeri Nichushkin was suspended for six months an hour before the game started, and then word came down that Devon Toews would miss the game due to illness. I have to assume the rest of the locker room was stunned, and they played like it.

Dallas outshot the Avalanche 16-2 in period one, and even that might have been generous. The only reason the score wasn’t completely lopsided was because Alexandar Georgiev came to play, making multiple high-end stops to keep his team in it. That team never woke up in period one, and just when it looked like they might get some momentum going on their first powerplay, disaster struck.

Cale Makar, with the puck behind his net, was pressured by Wyatt Johnston and turned the puck over. Johnston sent it to Sam Steele, whose initial shot was stopped by Georgiev. Johnston’s first rebound attempt was saved, but he smacked home the rebound, making it 1-0 Stars. Georgiev didn’t exactly get a ton of help on the play overall with the team’s best players on the ice.

With just seconds remaining in the period, Georgiev stopped Benn on a breakaway to keep it 1-0. Fans didn’t boo, but I think that could have been because they were stunned by what they just saw. An ugly performance by the home team.

Second Period

The second period didn’t start all that much better for Colorado. While they started generating a little bit of offense, they spent far too much time chasing in their own end.

Four minutes into the period, Caleb Jones, filling in for Toews, took his second penalty of the game. What followed was a dominant powerplay for the Stars, where they barely left the zone. Sam Girard broke his stick on Marchment’s back, giving the road team more of an advantage. Georgiev held them off as long as he could, but couldn’t stop everything. Jason Robertson eventually hit Johnston on the backdoor, and his one-time shot went off Georgiev and in, making it 2-0.

Five minutes later, Cale Makar threw a reverse hit in his own end recovering the puck. Fans loved it, but he seemed more worried about the hit than the puck. It eventually came back to Miro Heiskanen at the point, whose seeing-eye shot beat Georgiev, making it 3-0.

A minute later, the Avalanche managed to get on the board, as Casey Mittelstadt snuck out from behind the net, curled the puck, and beat Oettinger on the glove side, cutting the lead to two.

This period wasn’t quite as lopsided as the first one, as the Stars only managed to outshoot the Avalanche 12-11, but they were able to extend their lead even more, which is all that matters.

Third Period

At no point did it feel like this game was ever in reach for Colorado, even when they were pushing in the third period. Colorado had chances, but Oettinger swallowed them up pretty easily. About halfway through the period, a total breakdown in the defensive zone saw Evgeni Dadonov extend the Stars lead to three, and that was all she wrote. Sam Steele added an empty netter, and the Stars walked out of the building with a 5-1 win.

The Avalanche will now head to Dallas in need of a win to extend their season. Game Five on Wednesday starts at 6 PM MST. CHN will be at American Airlines Center for the game.

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Flounder

Does tonight’s train wreck mean that Saint Bednar will finally see an ounce of criticism? The mediocre playoff results come year after year after year. Injuries happen. Suspensions happen. All teams deal with it. That is still no excuse for the Avs coming out flat in big games year after year. The adjustments aren’t there. The coaches seemingly have absolutely no clue how to adjust the power play. Why are we accepting this guy with almost no criticism with these results? And shoot, it is not so much that they lose, but they get embarrassed. Losing to Seattle, losing 4… Read more »

Jeffrey Anderson

Bednar’s also jacked. He must have the best ‘guns’ of any NHL coach.

Whatever the criteria, he also has his name on the Cup.

Boom Boom Beck

I will not buy another ticket until Sakic resigns. His handling of the Nichuskin situation has been pathetic. The loser should have been cut after last season. The organ-i-zation needs new leadership and needs it ASAP if not earlier.

Last edited 7 days ago by Boom Boom Beck
Jon

It’s not the NFL. You can’t just waive a player. Contracts are fully guaranteed and Val has 6 more years left. Staring at that scenario an organization would be foolish to not try to make it work thus far. Moving forward is another story. Like other sports, I’m sure their collective bargaining agreement doesn’t allow you to waive an injured player or 1 in an assistance program. What they will be allowed to do with Val in 6 months will I’m sure will be governed by that agreement. We don’t know the details on that. Bottom line, I’d feel certain… Read more »

Boom Boom Beck

There is no NHL rule that forces a team to retain a player who cannot perform because of a self-inflicted problem. Bum should have terminated immediately after he shacked up with that broad in the postseason.

Ken

I love your writing Evan, but occasionally you are tad off. “Shockingly” was a bad word for title. I can’t imagine a single Avs fan who is shocked when this team laid an egg after losing 2 core players before the game. Their has been zero true leadership without Landy and that is what is needed in this situation. It is super frustrating that this core that should have been able to win at least 3 cups, is going to stop at 1. I fully expect Bednar back, a few vet swaps, and no young players getting a shot next… Read more »

Last edited 7 days ago by Ken
Christopher Nearing

I have been a season ticket holder for years and cannot remember when the Avs played a worse game than tonight. No effort at all. Did the news of Nischuskin’s failed drug test and subsequent suspension suck the life out of the team? Two year’s in a row he’s abandoned the team in the heat of battle. Regardless of your position on Nischuskin, the impact of his actions have greatly impacted the team and you have to wonder how they can ever trust him again as a teammate. As a loyal fan and paying customer it was sad to witness… Read more »

hockeyhead

I totally agree. It is time to really discuss the Mikko issue. For as talented as he is, most games he is a lazy non interested player, who then suddenly picks up a few goals or assist. I really question giving him a new contract at his price point for long term.

Jon

It was really troubling for me to see that the players wearing an “A” – MacKinnon, Rantanen and Makar, appeared to have the worst body language while others were all-in until the end

Jon

I’m certain the Avs won’t be able to do anything with Val while he’s in the program. I’m sure you’ll be learning details as more unfold but I’m curious if the suspension is 6 calendar months or 6 months of the next season

Mark Messier

Avs should have been more than motivated. Too many passengers as Bednar used to say, then the feelings became front and center. MacKinnon is a total small game hunter, fails in the playoffs over and over

Steve

Really glad I didn’t buy tickets to either of these home games. They were brutal. Tonight was so bad I stopped watching it on TV midway thru the second. I can’t imagine the atmosphere (or lack thereof) in the arena. What a disappointing effort. It’s not even like the Stars are that great of a team.

Last edited 7 days ago by Steve Carlander

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