It wasn't going to be easy for the Colorado Avalanche in taking on the Dallas Stars, despite prevailing in their previous two meetings.
Dallas was on the second night of a back-to-back and started their backup Kari Lehtonen, but also had been winners of their last four straight games. After getting shut out by Colorado just a week ago, it was certain the Stars were going to find the back of the net in this one.
The game didn't start well for the Avs, as they saw Dallas take an early lead from a Tyler Seguin breakaway at 14:44. The Stars also added another goal late in the first period off of a perfect shot from Seguin (again) at 19:10.
The Avs would respond early in the second period with a great shot from Mikko Rantanen just 39 seconds into the period. Hopefully someone in the crowd won a prize from that. But the good vibes wouldn't last long, as Dallas added goals at 6:48 and 7:52 to end Jonathan Bernier’s night less than 40 minutes in.
Dallas almost took a 5-1 lead not long after, but the goal was waived off for goaltender interference on Semyon Varlamov.
Taking that bit of momentum, the Avs scored their own goal- which indeed counted - at 12:45 on some nice hard work from Blake Comeau and his line.
In the third period, things didn't go much better for Colorado, though, as the Stars added three more goals - including one empty netter - and took home the touchdown victory on football Sunday. The Avs continued their sloppy play through the final 20 minutes, and blew several power play opportunities. They never really got close to getting back in the game.
The effort was there, but not the execution.
As much as this game was frustrating and at times tough to watch, though, it is part of the process of developing together as a young group. The Avs did manage to hold 60% possession through the game, and even had 65% CF in the first period when it was still a game. So some gains are being made, but growing pains hurt.
It is inexplicable that Samuel Girard didn't see much time on the power play, just 34 seconds over three occasions. When the game requires several goals to make up and there's late game power plays, it made little sense that they didn’t utilize their most creative and potentially dynamic threat on the blueline. It's understandable to lean on the experienced Tyson Barrie to a point, but he was making careless mistakes himself - and Erik Johnson just simply doesn't need the minutes on the power play, logging over 26 minutes of ice time a night as it is.
Girard typically plays a lot at even strength - and sure enough, clocked in with the second-most minutes on the team this game with just over 17 minutes of even strength time. Perhaps, the coaching staff is attempting to manage his minutes in the early stages of his career - but to not use his offensive gifts on the man advantage seems like a misuse of resources.
The team clearly misses their captain, and thankfully there's only one more game to go in Gabriel Landeskog's suspension. Comeau tried to get some physicality going and increase the team's energy in the third period, which went with the nice effort on his goal, but it just wasn't enough.
The Avs finish their five game home stand on Tuesday, December 5th at 7pm MT against the struggling Buffalo Sabres, which could be the perfect time to get back on track. As of Saturday, Buffalo slipped to 31st in the NHL behind the Arizona Coyotes, officially falling behind a team that started their year 0-10-1. They now sit three points back of Arizona - and although they’ll be well-rested on Tuesday, could find themselves losing a fifth straight in regulation.