The Avalanche did just about everything they could possibly do in this contest except score in the final frame as another game of bad bounces cursed the team. The Avs outshot Arizona 35-14 yet Arizona came away with a victory and bad luck struck again for the Avs as all three Arizona goals came off of deflections in front of Grubauer.
The Arizona Coyotes earned a rare first period lead when Avs defenseman Jacob MacDonald was sent to the box early. The Coyotes cashed in on a shot, their first of the game, from former Avs forward Derick Brassard when his wrister from the right circle deflected off Samuel Girard’s stick and between Philipp Grubauer’s pads.
After the opening goal, the chances were handily in favor of Colorado. That was until the Desert Dogs won a puck battle down low in the Avalanche zone and cycled the puck back up to the point where defenseman Jakob Chychrun walked the line and fired a shot that was once again deflected. The knuckling puck wound its way through the zone and over Grubauer’s glove to pad Arizona’s lead at two.
The Avs didn’t let another two-goal deficit stop them as they came out from the first intermission firing on all cylinders.
The Avs earned a power play roughly halfway through the middle frame, but this was short-lived as Gabriel Landeskog was sent to the box on a questionable tripping penalty. With 1:44 of 4-on-4 hockey, the Avs kept the Coyotes pinned in their own zone and finally were rewarded for their persistence when Nazem Kadri threaded the needle and found Valeri Nichushkin in the slot. The big Russian blasted a shot top shelf and just like that the Avs had cut the Arizona lead in half.
The Avs power play got another opportunity before the period was up and the team was able to convert on a rocket of a wrist shot from Andre Burakovsky. Landeskog beat his man to the puck and fed it behind the net for Mikko Rantanen who slid the puck up to Samuel Girard at the point and then Girard found Burakovsky on the far side and he took it from there. Boom, tie game.
To this point in the game, the Avs had come back from three two-goal deficits three games in a row. Things were shaping up for a big third from the home squad.
After just about two minutes had elapsed in the third, Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper left the game with an injury. It wasn’t apparent what caused the injury nor was it clear what exactly the injury was, but backup Antti Raanta was forced into action to close out the remainder of the game.
The Avs continued with lots of offensive pressure in the Arizona zone, but could not quite cross the finish line.
Arizona earned the lead back after the Avs’ lost possession down low in their own zone. The Coyotes fed the puck up top to defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson who fired a wrist shot that was again deflected down low and into the back of the net, this time by Johan Larsson.
The Avs would generate a ton of chances to close out the game and even end the final 2:14 of regulation with a power play, but they could not solve Raanta.
The Avs have now dropped two-straight games for only the second time all season. With the loss, the Avs drop to 13-8-2 and remain steady with 28 points. The Minnesota Wild earned a 2-0 shutout against the Vegas Golden Knights this evening and have now leapfrogged the Avs to regain possession of third place in the division.
Overall, the Avs played well tonight, but were just cursed by back puck luck (again). Let’s hope reinforcements arrive for Wednesday’s game and the Avs can start getting players back off the injured list because another regulation loss to Arizona on Wednesday night and the Avs will be on the outside of the playoff picture looking in — not where many expected this team to be at this point.
The Avalanche will play the second half of their back-to-back with Arizona on Wednesday night at Ball Arena in Denver, CO. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM MST and the game can be found on Altitude and FS-A.