The effort was there, but not the bounces nor execution, as the Avs fell to a record of 9-8-1.
The Avalanche came out in the first period with good energy and pressure, but couldn't convert off of three early power plays. They then failed to convert on a five-minute man advantage after Austin Watson boarded Dominic Toninato nearly twelve minutes into his first NHL game.
The nasty hit seemed to stun the Avs, as they watched yet another promising rookie in his first game with the club go down - the second one in as many consecutive games. After more ineffectiveness, the Predators got their own power play, and Craig Smith converted at 19:25.
In the second period, Colton Sissons found the back of the net at 9:11 after Mikko Rantanen went down behind the net from a whack in the face with a stick. Then, at 10:38, Anthony Bitetto hammered home a shot that Semyon Varlamov couldn't see through a screen, and the Predators were on cruise control.
Good news, though, as Toninato returned at the beginning of the period and contributed some solid play - especially on the penalty kill - and even drew a penalty.
The third period was pretty much the same story up until the final five minutes.
The Avalanche weren’t converting on their chances, and the Predators showed why they’re a better team. Mattias Ekholm netted a power play goal at 7:53, and Viktor Arvidsson converted at 11:51.
In garbage time, Andrei Mironov potted his first NHL goal off a snipe from the blue line at 15:23, and JT Compher added another from a nice give-and-go with Alexander Kerfoot at 18:15 - and that's all she wrote.
This was the ninth game for Samuel Girard, and the clock is about zero on the time to make a decision on keeping him in the NHL or sending him back to junior. The Avs have all but said he is staying with them, but nothing has been made official. Girard again saw a significant portion of ice time, clocking in at 21:19, and was second on the team in 5v5 ice time as well with 14:12. Although the game devolved into garbage time early, Girard again finished with strong possession numbers at 70 CF%. In four games with the Avs, he sits at 55 CF%; it’s a small sample size, but not an insignificant amount of ice time. While he hasn't been mistake free, Girard has shown he is helping move the puck forward and suppress shots, which is about all one can ask for from a young defenseman. The slick moves and playmaking ability which will lead to many goals to come is a very nice added bonus as well. Girard belongs in the NHL, which should be made official by game time in Detroit.
2. It was a rough game overall for Alexander Kerfoot, who took two pretty grisly penalties and was looking pretty rough in possession before garbage time helped bring him up to 46.15 CF%. However, Kerfoot walks out away from the night with another multi-point game, racking up two assists on the two goals the Avalache converted. He's quietly back up to third in team scoring with 15 points. The puck just seems to follow Kerfoot around, and he's likely going to see a lot of points in his career.
3. The other youth continues to chip in and comprise an ever-growing portion of the roster. Along with Mironov's first goal, he picked up an assist on Compher's tally. Toninato had a solid debut after surviving the devastating blow he recieved earlier on in the contest, and certainly deserves a further look on the club. This game shows that, while the result on the scoreboard was disappointing and it is frustrating to see the team fail to convert on their chances, the effort was there and the youth movement has permeated the roster and is beginning to show a glimpse of what the future will look like.
Tomorrow night at 4pm MT against the Red Wings in Detroit to check out the new arena. This will be the fourth consecutive weekend back to back for the Avalanche.