The Avs woke up Sunday in a playoff position. By Sunday's end, they were sitting on the outside looking in. After playing strong defensive hockey for most of the week, the Avalanche's depleted defensive core took the weekend off again as they watched the Chicago Blackhawks inflict six stab wounds with "Chelsea's Dagger." After going down three to nothing, the Avs battled back with two goals from their all-star, but one softer goal drove Patrick Roy to pull Semyon Varlamov and completely change the momentum and trajectory of the game from a close battle to a blow out. Varlamov is expected to be back in net against the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday night.
Tampa Bay is a team in a similar position as the Avalanche. After pushing the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals last June, the Lightning now find themselves sitting just outside a playoff spot and dealing with two major off-ice issues. As the March trade deadline approaches, GM Steve Yzerman faces major issues with two of his stars. His team captain and leading goal scorer, Steven Stamkos is still in need of a contract as the season enters the second half and his UFA summer approaches. Rumors say Stamkos is inching out of town, but in today's NHL, players of his caliber almost never hit the open market. Jonathan Drouin on the other hand is blatantly asking to be shipped out of Tampa after seeing little playing time for his extraordinary talents. Both issues seem to continue to be a distraction for a team many picked to win the East again.
Scratches: Johnson (injury), Wagner
- With two goals on Sunday, Matt Duchene eclipsed the 20-goal mark for the fifth time in his career and matched his goal total from last season (21).
- The Avs are tied with the Boston Bruins for most home power play goals in the NHL (21).
Game time: 7pm MT