In many ways tonight's contest between the Colorado Avalanche and Washington Capitals felt familiar. There was the chance the Avalanche could play a tight game like they did in the previous game's victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. There was also the strong possibility the Capitals would get pay back for their listless 6-2 defeat in Denver last month.
Washington opened the scoring early in the first period at 5:25 when the Capitals got a 3 on 2 rush and Jakub Vrana deposited the puck right over Semyon Varlamov's shoulder. Not an ideal start.
The Avalanche fought an uphill battle until Colin Wilson made a smooth backhanded puck find the back of the net at 4:13 in the second period for his second goal in three games but just only his third on the year. The tie would not last long however because some very lacksidadical defense especially from Tyson Barrie and Washington found the lead again at 17:32 from John Carlson.
After a few failed power plays, which placed the Avs at 0-14 on the man advantage for the road trip, Washinton scored on a delayed penalty just 5:15 into the third period from Brett Connolly. At that point a two goal lead solidified the win for the Capitals.
A botched 4 on 4 and an empty net goal increased Washington's tally to five sandwiched around Tyson Jost finally finding pay dirt himself with a crafty backhand shot at 18:57 that was too good to waste on just a garbage time tally. Jost was showing more flashes of what he's capable in this contest and hopefully the goal springboards him to finding his groove in the NHL.
The sloppier execution could be understandable on a back to back and just the mere fact that Colorado's cohesion and experience level is no match for the Capitals. However the mental errors in a game which for a decent amount of time was winnable will drive head coach Jared Bednar crazy. Gabe Landeskog in particular had a third period to forget as he was completely incapable of handing the puck. Tyson Barrie also had several lazy moments which won't make it to his free agency highlight reel. A disappointing effort from team leaders.
The seven defensemen experiment has to end soon. Maybe the two victories on the road trip will validate this idea but it's leading to the cohesion issues. Apparently Bednar thinks this is the best way to pull back on rookie defenseman Sam Girard's minutes but still get him in the lineup. However, it's a sneaky coincidence this even became a necessity when Bednar favorites defensemen Patrik Nemeth and Anton Lindholm returned from injury and back to the lineup. Not having a plan for developing young prospects, especially defensemen, seems to be a continuing organizational issue.
Another failed idea that needs to find the dumpster upon return to Denver is the concept of not having a fourth line or even a consistent third line. However with Alexander Kerfoot considered day to day with a minor foot injury and Nail Yakupov overcoming an illness, that might not be possible anytime soon. The team will probably continue to play as inconsistent as its lineup in the meantime as well.
The Avalanche are back home on Thursday, December 14th at 7pm MT to face the Florida Panthers for a rematch of their weekend 7-3 victory.