The Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets finished their home-and-home series with the Jackets coming out on top 4-2 Saturday night. The Avs finish their first 10 games of the season 4-5-1, a concerning record to start the year with the strength of the roster.
The Avalanche came out on the wrong foot, again continuing with the lapse of defense. Despite the return of Devon Toews to the lineup and the exit of Kurtis MacDermid, the Avs fell behind.
The Jackets would score at 11:44 of the first, when Gabriel Carlsson snuck behind the lackluster Avs defense. Jakub Voracek would find the loose Carlsson to put the Jackets up 1-0.
The Avs came back though, thanks to the return of Andre Burakovsky. Just after the power play expired, Sam Girard would find Nazem Kadri, who fed it to the slapper of Burakovsky to draw level at one. Honors would be even at one heading into the second frame.
Both teams ramped up the action in the second, with Columbus getting lots of looks including a post shot by Jake Bean. Darcy Kuemper had to make some big saves to keep his team in it.
The offense did its job though, as Burakovsky got his second of the night with a beautiful backhand right in front over Elvis Merzlinkins.
There were penalties galore in the second as well, with Jack Johnson finding himself in trouble as well as a big scrum at the end of period after a hard hit on Mikko Rantanen.
As the Avs entered the third with a lead, they were looking for something that’s been hard to come by this season: holding onto a lead. It required Darcy Kuemper to stand on his head up to this point.
The other five in front of him could not complete this though, as Alex Texier had one coming to getting into the back of the net all night. He got it from a feed from the corner wide of Kuemper to tie it at two.
All signs pointed to another overtime for these two clubs after their wild affair on Wednesday night that had the Jackets come out on top. The Blue Jackets, however, had other ideas and didn’t want to go to the extra frame.
Cole Sillinger would tip in a shot down low after a shot from the point. It beat Kuemper and broke the heart of Avs and increased their anger level with the Jackets taking a 3-2 lead with just over a minute to go.
Colorado would pull Kuemper, but to no avail as Columbus sent one into the gaping net to kill it off 4-2, giving the Avs their second straight loss.
Again, there’s been yet another defense collapse. The Avs let a mediocre Blue Jackets team without Patrik Laine to score three straight to pull ahead. Simply put, it is unacceptable by everyone on the bench to let that happen, both players and coaches. Rantanen admitted that was the worst third period by the team he’s ever seen. Changes need to be soon, or else we’re in for a long season.
Despite the negatives, Kuemper stood out while being left out to dry tonight. He did his part, making 38 saves to keep the Avs in it for as long as possible. He stood out in the second to keep the one goal lead then, but needs more support if he does any better this season.
The Avs were back to a semi-healthy lineup, still missing out on Valeri Nichushkin and Cale Makar to injury. Nichushkin has been caught up in a possible doping scandal that may need to be looked at further, but nonetheless the return of these two and a healthy lineup will be a big sigh of relief for everyone whose involved with the Avs. In the meantime, the Avs have four days to rest up, recap on what happened, and look ahead.
Speaking of looking ahead, the Vancouver Canucks come to town on Thursday, November 11th. Just a reminder that this is the first Avs game that is requiring vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test for those looking to go to the game. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. MT.