For perhaps their final game at Gila River Arena the Colorado Avalanche traveled to visit the Arizona Coyotes and wrap-up what has been a surprisingly challenging season series with the new Central division rival. It was Arizona who found the upper hand and held on to give the Avalanche just their 11th regulation defeat in a 2-1 final.
Truly nothing happened in this game through the first period, not even a penalty call for either team. The Avalanche got a couple looks and 12 shots on goal but it was a pretty tepid start for both teams.
It felt like the Avalanche finally started getting back to their identity and Devon Toews got the Avalanche on the board as he was left open in the slot and fired the puck through a bunch of bodies at 5:48 in the second frame. Cale Makar picked up an assist on the goal extending his points streak to now 10 games. Goals have been tough to come by for him lately but Makar is still making a big impact creating goals and scoring chances.
As good as the score felt the Avalanche could not build on it to strengthen their lead and also they could not close out the period with a lead at all as Loui Eriksson took advantage of soft coverage to get Arizona their first goal with under to minutes left in the second period.
The third period wasn’t a much different story as Arizona found their second goal of the night as Nick Schmaltz executed a power move to the net and finished off the play around Pavel Francouz’ right pad at 5:37. More lax coverage aided the situation as Arizona took the lead.
No stranger to third period deficits the Avalanche had work to do but couldn’t get much going as Arizona tightened up and also relied on a good effort from their netminder Karel Vejmelka who made 42 saves en route to picking up his eighth win of the season.
The most compelling portion of the game was when Dysin Mayo high sticked Nathan MacKinnon in the mouth with four seconds to go and that drew the ire of the Avalanche and MacKinnon who instigated a fight with Mayo. Gabe Landeskog tussled with Jakob Chychrun as well yet the game still resulted in a 2-1 loss.
It is annoying to lose twice in a row to Arizona but playing the same team four times in a six week span will tend toward even results regardless of record. The Avalanche will largely have to find internal motivation and focus to get through the next two months of regular season play so games like this will happen from time to time. It is important to recognize bad habits as they start appearing, however, and the sloppy play is becoming too common of a theme.
A power play which is on a uninspiring 3/35 stretch including 0/2 in this contest needs to get addressed at some point as well. Moving players around to different spots is a new wrinkle but hasn’t yielded any better results. Creativity is thin on the man advantage and could become a problem when the games really matter again.
In other news, good thing the Avalanche were on the road tonight!
Ball Arena evacuated, concert canceled after fire in maintenance area https://t.co/DUbkqNTsho— 9NEWS Denver (@9NEWS) March 4, 2022
A brief stop at home to take on the surging Calgary Flames at 8pm MT on Saturday, March 5th.