No rest for the wicked as the Colorado Avalanche soldiered on to the second half of a back-to-back in their jam-packed schedule. There wasn’t much left in the tank and lineup to take on a suddenly surging LA Kings team and it showed in this 3-1 defeat.
At some point in the second period Nathan MacKinnon went missing from the bench without any obvious reason why. Jared Bednar didn’t offer much of an update after the game other than it was a lower body injury. Here is MacKinnon’s last shift, which doesn’t provide many clues.
Y'all be the judge. I don't see anything but he does seem to labor a bit. pic.twitter.com/UvflrgkFw9— Nathan Rudolph (@Nathan__Rudolph) March 10, 2020
Right from puck drop it was clear the Avalanche were not in this game. Poor defensive coverage lead to the Kings’ first goal from Austin Wagner at 14:22. Just a minute later Mikey Anderson’s shot was tipped by Kevin Connauton past Pavel Francouz playing his second game in consecutive nights. The Avalanche only managed four shots on goal in the period and looked like it.
The second period the Avalanche doubled their shots to eight highlighted by a futile power play and failed penalty shot by Valeri Nichushkin. Still, they held serve with the Kings and maintained only a two goal deficit after the second period.
Finally the Avalanche showed some life in the third frame and were rewarded just two minutes into the period when Jonathan Quick misplayed a Pierre-Edouard Bellemare shot and got the Avalanche on the board.
The Avalanche continued pushing but could not get the equalizer. Then at 14:35 Alex Iafallo corralled a turnover from Ryan Graves and made a move around Ian Cole to restore the two goal lead. Francouz was pulled in favor of the extra attacker but the visitors couldn’t get another goal. In a physically and mentally draining game the Avalanche came up short in a 3-1 final.
The Avalanche called up Martin Kaut in the morning and he flew to LA to join the team but they ended up dressing Mark Barberio as a forward instead. Once again the Avalanche attempted to travel with as thin of a group as possible and it comes back to bite them as they scrambled to cover for uncertain players heading into this game. Now the MacKinnon injury could affect the roster and callups even further.
A hectic and compressed schedule won’t get any easier as the Avalanche now play every other day until the regular season finale on April 4th. That game could again decide playoff fates as both teams are chasing the Central Division crown and top seed in the Western Conference. How many players they will have healthy at that point seems to be the greater question at the moment however.
One day off then a match with an eastern conference foe in the New York Rangers to kick off a four-game homestand. Puck drop at 8pm MT on Wednesday.