First Period

Early in the first, Florida’s Sam Reinhart had a weird collision with Evan Rodrigues near the bench. Rodrigues stayed down, hurt, but eventually labored back to the bench and played through the rest of the game.

The action drew a penalty and Colorado went on the powerplay, but they were unable to convert. 

At even strength, both teams had some moments where they mishandled the puck, but Florida effectively capitalized on Colorado’s mistakes.

There’s a reason you don’t want to see Aleksander Barkov at the netfront. At the midway point, Anton Lundell entered the zone alone on Cale Makar and Devon Toews. Both went to engage him behind the net and Makar skated around the front. Toews did not have a handle on Lundell and Lundell made the pass to a streaking Barkov who earned inside ice on Darren Helm and backhanded a shot past Georgiev. Makar tried to tie his stick up, but Barkov was able to get past him.

Moments later, a broken play in the offensive zone led to a rush against. Florida’s Sam Bennett made the diving play to get the puck ahead and Compher got tangled and went down which stopped him from ever having a chance to get back on the backcheck. Toews, and eventually Mikko Rantanen and Erik Johnson, were able to get back. Carter Verhaeghe carried the puck in and set up in the Avs end. He passed uncontested to Brandon Montour who fired a shot in from the right circle and in – Rantanen and Toews got caught kind of floating there.

Minute by minute, their hole grew deeper. Artturi Lehkonen took a hooking penalty on Aaron Eklbad and the Avs went on the PK. On the subsequent kill, Sam Girard used his stick to break up the play, which was successful, but his swipe to settle it went straight to Reinhart who passed it to Sam Bennett coming down the slot. Bennett lifted the pass and in, in one fell swoop.

Right as the one-minute remaining call rang through the arena, Andrew Cogliano won a battle along the boards. He dished it to Makar who found Kurtis MacDermid at the right circle. MacDermid wristed it to the net and Cogliano tipped it in. Colorado closed out the period down by two.

Second Period

Special teams failed them in the first, but Colorado received another chance to rectify their powerplay early in the second. Unfortunately, they couldn’t figure it out. Makar had a chance.

Just under the ten-minute mark. A play whistled dead in the Avs end led to some pushing and shoving. MacDermid dropped the gloves with Givani Smith while Logan O’Connor got involved with Ryan Lomberg.

Avs received another powerplay chance, but it was nothing of note. Under the minute mark, Montour carried the puck behind the net and set up Barkov at the circle. It looked like Barkov’s shot went wide, but it ended up to Matt Tkachuk either way who tapped it in.  

Colorado outshot Florida 13-11 in the first, but despite two additional PP chances in this frame, the Avs were outshot 17-4. Florida generated as many chances in the second period as the Avs had total. 

Third Period

It was grim, but things started to turn around 6:29 into the final period. Compher carried the puck in, and for the second game in a row, Brad Hunt came streaking in, this time to find Rantanen at the netfront. Rantanen completed the wraparound and scored.

Twenty seconds later, Girard made the outlet pass to Rantanen in the neutral zone. Rantanen found MacKinnon blasting into their zone and MacKinnon fired a wrister past Sergei Bobrovsky, beating him clean. The Avs were within one goal.

Later, a skirmish with J.T. Compher and Brandon Montour after the whistle sent them both to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct and both teams played 4-on-4.

With about thirty seconds left in the 4-on-4, a Lehkonen goal was taken off the board after a video review – the play was offside with Toews a step too far ahead of the play. Back on 5-on-5, the Avs decided they would not like to lose this game.

MacDermid sent a shot from the blueline and Compher interrupted its path. He played the puck and went bar down for the tying goal.

A missed high-stick on Compher led to play the other way. An interference call on Rantanen put Colorado on the penalty kill. Georgiev came up with a huge save on Reinhart’s shot from the slot, but with ten seconds left on the kill, Tkachuk got one past Georgiev with a little help from the skate of Evan Rodrigues.

With little time left, Colorado pulled the goaltender. Compher nearly had a chance on a rebound off Bobrovsky’s pad. It wasn’t enough. Florida won 5-4.

Observations:

Little details: There’s a lot to unpack. Avs are on the receiving end of some bad luck undoubtedly. Bad bounces, pucks off skates, a missed call, broken plays, and close denials. But even without bad luck, mistakes were made that still cost them the game. Erik Johnson’s errant pass in the offensive zone that was swiftly broken up led to an odd-man rush and goal against. Devon Toews and Cale Makar’s miscue behind the net which left Florida’s skater unchallenged. Kaut offside on the powerplay. Toews’ eagerness to enter the zone which leads to an offside. Mikko Rantanen pushing the envelope after frustrations from an obvious missed call boil over and lead to a penalty. Flimsy or not, those types of play in games close games will always pose a risk.

“Well we didn’t play well enough for 40 minutes,” said Bednar. “It’s just not good enough.”

“We get some shooting luck and more intensity to our game in our third and it started to turn around for us. But it wasn’t there, (we) didn’t manage the puck good in the first. I didn’t like the way we checked in the second. I didn’t like what we were giving up, poor puck management, too many turnovers led to some good breaks for them, and they executed on them.”

The locker room was understandably deflated. Players took ownership of the game, and Cale Makar showed a glimpse of optimism alongside his criticism.

“There’s just a lot of areas in our game right now that are not detailed enough,” he started.”

“I mean we know we have it,” he added. “It’s just, ‘Why is that not in the first and the second period?’ We should be like that the entire game because we know we’re capable of it. It’s just figuring out how we can do that. You see glimpses of it. You saw how we played in the third period. (We) just have to figure out a way to do that for a full 60 every single night.”

He didn’t feel the team played with an attack mentality for its entirety.

Special teams implosion: The powerplay went 0/3 and Colorado allowed a goal on each of its two penalties. The powerplay’s failure has been building. It wasn’t as glaring in low-scoring, low-event games. But on multi-goal nights with an insufficient penalty kill, their inability to convert coupled with a penalty kill jilted first by a broken play and the second devastated in the final seconds, the finishing woes of this team just aren’t acceptable. Particularly in the second wherein the Avs get two chances and only register four shots on net the entire period.

“It’s generally a mirror image, your special teams, of your five on five play,” said Bednar. “We weren’t sharp enough. We weren’t good enough on the defensive side of it. It leaked into our penalty kill tonight. Power play had opportunities to get us a big one. We didn’t shoot the puck well, probably didn’t do enough, had some unforced turnovers, and puck support wasn’t quick enough.”

It’s a frustrating loss. “The message has been recently, we got to play a full 60, expect to play a full 60,” Bednar emphasized. “It’s on all of us.”

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