In search of a bit of a reset and a couple points, the Colorado Avalanche headed west to Vegas early this morning. That goal was not accomplished in a 2-1 defeat to the Golden Knights following the holiday break.
Carrying only a bare bones roster again the Avalanche called up defenseman Ryan Graves from the Colorado Eagles to make his NHL debut due to Nikita Zadorov still unavailable while dealing with a lower body injury.
In a back and forth affair in the first frame the Avalanche and Golden Knights would trade goals. First, the visitors from JT Compher on a set play off a faceoff on the power play at 9:42.
Vegas would answer back at 11:40 when Paul Statsny scored on his old team, and on his birthday no less, on a scramble play down low.
The second period remained scoreless after the teams traded several power plays. Vegas definitely looked like they were swinging the momentum with a 15-7 shot advantage that period. In the third, Vegas took the lead at 10:11 when Brandon Pirri converted from long range, which goaltender Philip Grubauer didn’t see through traffic.
The Avalanche had their opportunities to tie the game late. They brought their shot total up to 32 and had 13 alone in the third period and the Avalanche were awarded with consecutive power plays with under six minutes left, but they were not able to convert, and were forced to leave Nevada empty-handed.
- In order for the Avalanche to take the next step as a team to consistency and hopefully eventual contender status they will need to learn how to defeat physical structured teams such as Vegas on a regular basis. The lack of growth in this area is holding the team back for now.
- Ryan Graves looked good in his NHL debut. While only seeing the ice for just over eight minutes he finished near even in Corsi for and added two shots on goal. Graves fills in the niche of a larger player standing at 6’5 who is not afraid to shoot, much like Zadorov, and still offers the possibility of a bit of upside.
- Mikko Rantanen may have lost the league scoring race to Nikita Kucherov he did chip in an assist to hit 60 points on the season. Accomplishing this feat before the new year is incredible and shows the consistency has to keep racking up points in this cold spell for the team.
Mikko Rantanen collected an assist on the @Avalanche's only goal of the contest to become the second player this season and second this evening to reach the 60-point mark (also Nikita Kucherov). #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/Qo4lpEe0nP— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 28, 2018
- One possible reason for the valley the Avalanche are enduring right now is their response to a few injuries beginning to pile up. Zadorov and Colin Wilson are lineup regulars who are missing, but trying to keep as thin of a roster as possible and overworking the top players is not a recipe for long-term success. Playing MacKinnon, Erik Johnson, Ian Cole and Tyson Barrie over 23 minutes is not even leading to wins in the short term. The insistence of keeping zero healthy extras around — especially with the Eagles set to play out of state for the next two weeks — is asking for trouble.
The Avalanche return home for a four-game homestand which kicks off against the Chicago Blackhawks at 7pm MT on Friday, December 29th.