If you’re like me, the Colorado Avalanche met your expectations tonight. They dressed in the correct uniform, took the ice and over the course of 60 minutes managed to find some way to lose, just like they have for seven straight games—but who’s counting, right? Tonight’s loss came at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks. The score was 3-2; and yes, there was brief hope during the third period the end result would be different. Alas, it was not.
Sven Baertschi began the scoring for the Canucks, 6:55 into the first period. The play began with center Bo Horvat corralling the puck in the corner and promptly losing Avalanche defenseman Francois Beauchemin. He powered to the front of the net and put a shot on goalie Calvin Pickard and Baertschi cleaned up the ensuing rebound to give his team an early 1-0 lead.
Vancouver would also strike first in the second period, this time off the stick of Markus Granlund. The puck entered the Avalanche zone innocently enough—really just a dump in. Nikita Zadorov retrieved the puck behind the Avalanche net and skated behind his net to make an outlet pass, but in the process, he fumbled the puck directly to a forechecking Granlund, who quickly wrapped a shot around the post for his 12th goal of the season.
The Avalanche got their first glimmer of hope later in the period when Mikko Rantanen skated the puck into the corner of Vancouver’s zone and whipped a pass back to an awaiting Zadorov, who quickly put a shot on net. The puck wouldn’t go in, but it would squirt past Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom for an easy Rantanen rebound. The goal was the rookie’s seventh of the season—and 19th point.
In the third period, the Avalanche would even experiment with tying the game up. How did this happen? Well, it appears recent waiver claim Matt Nieto isn’t entirely familiar with organizational standards and took advantage of a hectic neutral zone play that saw the puck bounce from Matt Duchene to Gabriel Landeskog and then to open space. Nieto then swooped in a fired a wrister that mercifully found the back of the net for his second goal in an Avalanche uniform.
But the tie game wouldn’t last. Sven Baertschi would pocket his second goal of the evening later in the period, assisted by a couple of Sedin twins that you may have heard of, to give Vancouver a 3-2 lead. It would turn out to be all they needed—a game winner, as they say.
Colorado fell to 13-21-2 on the season—still good for last in the entire NHL. They will now enjoy a six-day break for the NHL All-Star game festivities. Afterward, they will attempt hockey again on January 31st against the Ducks in Anaheim.