Home / World News / Avalanche fall to Western Conference-worst Coyotes to begin homestand – The Denver Post

Avalanche fall to Western Conference-worst Coyotes to begin homestand – The Denver Post

The Avalanche is no longer the laughingstock of the NHL, but losing to the league’s two weakest teams at home will diminish its otherwise impressive restoration project.

Slow-starting Colorado played poorly in the first two periods Wednesday, didn’t get the bounces in the third, and ultimately lost 3-1 to the Western Conference-worst Arizona Coyotes to begin a six-game homestand at the Pepsi Center.

On Dec. 12, the Avs fell 4-2 to the Buffalo Sabres, who are last in the Eastern Conference.

“It’s December but we’re playing for our playoff lives already,” Avs defenseman Mark Barberio said. “In the position we’re in, we don’t have the luxury of taking nights off. We’re not in position like Tampa, where they’re obviously running away with things. We have to battle for our lives every night.”

Colorado (17-16-3) generated just 13 shots in the first two periods and misfired on a handful of glorious chances in the third. The Coyotes (9-25-5) got goals from Tobias Rieder, Alex Goligoski and Lawson Crouse and a big third-period breakaway save by goalie Antti Raanta.

Crouse scored with 4:25 remaining in the third period to extinguish Colorado’s comeback effort.

“I didn’t think we were willing to skate the puck. I thought we were light on the puck most of the night and our execution was poor, especially for the first two periods,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “You combined those three things and it turns out you get 13 shots on goal and it’s not enough. We got to be a lot better than that in the first two periods if we want to win hockey games.”

The Avs wasted another excellent penalty-killing performance. They killed off four penalties to extend their streak to nine games (27-of-27). The streak appeared destined to end late in the second period, when Colorado committed two delay-of-game minors for shooting the puck in the stands from the defensive zone in an 8-second span, but the Avs killed off the ensuing 5-on-3 disadvantage for 1:52.

“PK was great — again,” Bednar said. “If the rest of our game had the urgency our PK does we’d be a lot more successful.”

Early in the third period, Matt Nieto clanged a shot off the right post of Raanta and Nathan MacKinnon was stoned by Raanta on a breakaway bid. With less than seven minutes to play, Avs defenseman Nikita Zadorov hit the crossbar.

“We had chances to win the game but couldn’t capitalize,” said Avs winger Mikko Rantanen, who had a goal. “We just didn’t earn it.”

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