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"We got to get more guys going in the same direction...It's costing us." Jared Bednar says some stars need to be better following Avs 4-2 loss
Tonight the Colorado Avalanche were downed 4-2 by the Winnipeg Jets. On just the second game of their homestand, the Avs left some division points on the table.
The score coming out of the first period didn’t fully capture Colorado’s start.
It wasn’t all bad, and Avs even had a jump early into things, but they lacked urgency by the end of it. The Avs generated some of the first chances on net and finished with the high-danger advantage 3-0.
At 7:37, the Avs had their first powerplay chance, but they couldn’t convert.
Winnipeg had a really steady response to Colorado’s start and didn’t panic.
The Jets levied equal shots their way and viewed every shift as an opportunity including the final seconds.
After a battle in the neutral zone, Mikko Rantanen tried to get the puck back, presumably to Nathan MacKinnon or Devon Toews, but Axel Jonsson-Fjällby intercepted it.
Jonsson-Fjällby dumped it into Colorado’s end, and Toews got the first touch and attempted to rim it around the boards. Jonsson-Fjällby’s stick caught that too and passed to Adam Lowry streaking down the slot alone with just three seconds to go.
“The start of the game for me: too safe, just too vanilla,” said Bednar. “I felt like we lacked the intensity and urgency. Intensity on the offensive side that we need to create scoring chances, and urgency on the defensive side. I didn’t feel like they were any better in the first period and then we handed them some goals tonight.”
Then thirty seconds into the start of the second period, the Jets struck again.
Cale Makar tried to clear the puck and some sticks stopped its trajectory at the defensive blueline. Josh Morrisey whipped it around the boards and ushered it to Kyle Connor inside the right circle. Connor received the pass from Nikolaj Ehlers and spun around and sent it on net, past Georgiev.
Fortunately the Avs met the Jets’ intensity with some of their own.
Just two minutes later, Sam Malinski made the stretch pass up ice to Toews who quickly sent it to MacKinnon leading the charge. MacKinnon bursted past Logan Stanley and backhanded the puck over Connor Hellebuyck’s shoulder.
Malinski earned his first NHL point, and MacKinnon’s second goal in two games.
Shortly after, Colorado went on the kill and held the Jets to three attempts.
A really good shift from the fourth line midway through the period gave the Avs another powerplay chance. Unable to convert again, the Jets strung together some good defensive shifts following their successful kill.
The Avs had to get back quickly after Rantanen had the puck taken away at the offensive blueline. The Jets had enough time to move the puck back out high on the cycle. Dylan Samberg passed to Josh Morrissey and Morrisey ripped a shot from the top of the left circle past Georgiev. Malinski tried to battle in the crease and unintentionally screened Georgiev.
Colorado continued to apply pressure and four minutes later, they channeled the inspiring late-period effort the Jets had in the first.
Bowen Byram set the Avs up in transition. Joel Kiviranta exited the zone and tagged up MacKinnon. MacKinnon absorbed some contact along the way and protected the puck to maintain possession in his drive to inner ice. He made a slick pass behind him past Winnipeg’s Neal Pionk to Kiviranta at the top of the crease.
Kiviranta roofed it to the top corner so quickly that play resumed for a few seconds, but the Avs knew they had the goal. After a quick review, the goal was declared and the Avs were within one goal.
The Avs edged ahead in the shots battle inside the second period 16-13 and created eight dangerous chances to really challenge Hellebuyck.
“We did some good things to sort of break down their coverage, but then we didn’t. We didn’t execute and capitalize on them. We weren’t dangerous enough,” Bednar lamented.
“I like some things we did. Sometimes we drew penalties out of it, but sometimes it was a lot of activity with not a lot of accomplishment,” he added later.
Bednar’s criticism of inactivity extended into the third period.
Early into its start, the Avs received a five-on-three opportunity and weren’t able to create very much with just two attempts on net.
“I don’t know if it’s tired, lack of focus, (or) a little bit of both. There’s plays to be made in certain instances in the game and we didn’t make them. I saw Mikko [Rantanen] go all alone at the net front. Once we tried to get him a puck in the third, he doesn’t get there,” Bednar said.
The Jets secured the victory with an empty net goal from Connor late in the third.
It was just too little too late. Colorado made a push in the third and outshot Winnipeg 34-28.
MacKinnon’s two-point night on the heels of a three-point night against Anaheim boosted the Avs, but it wasn’t enough. They needed more support from the whole team.
“I still think we need some stars to be better than they were tonight – all of our guys throughout our lineup. Every team relies on their stars… Certainly, you’d like it spread out throughout your lineup. I’m just really happy [MacKinnon’s] going – that’s two games in a row – and tonight I thought he was outstanding,” said Bednar. “We got to get more guys going in the same direction. We’re kind of hit and miss throughout our lineup here for the last little bit. It’s costing us.”
Rantanen’s play has been quiet lately. He’s gone without two points in the last two contests and zero goals in the last eight games. Bednar addressed Rantanen’s slump at morning skate and acknowledged they were working through some things together.
“He’s doing some good things. I still want to see him pace it up a little bit. I know it’s bugging him. He’s still one of the most dangerous guys we have, and we need him. I know he feels that,” Bednar explained.
Makar was hard on himself postgame too.
“It just wasn’t one of my nights, sometimes, (the) puck’s not going your way,” he said. “It’s unfortunate when you watch a guy like that [MacKinnon] do what he can and you don’t give him much help.”
Even with some reinforcements coming back into the lineup, and some good moments of their own, it wasn’t enough tonight from the Avs.
They’ll get another chance against the Flyers on Saturday.