The Colorado Avalanche came into tonight’s road contest against the Calgary Flames with just three wins in their last 19 games, a level of incompetence and futility usually reserved for the league’s worst teams in February and March. For some reason, the Avs seemingly have given up on their season and themselves and tonight’s virtual no-show against the Flames was more of the same.
It took them nearly half of the first period to record their first shot on goal and even when they did, it wasn’t particularly dangerous as Flames goalie Brian Elliott denied the attempt without any real effort exuded. The rest of the night would be more of the same except the Avs would lose any semblance of discipline as the game wore on, racking up silly penalty after silly penalty.
After a complete lack of positive contributions through the first period, Avs forward Rene Bourque would finally do something noteworthy when he got caught for Holding. Sporting the league’s 25th-best penalty kill, the Avs were unable to kill off 10 full seconds of the penalty as Kris Versteeg banked a puck past Calvin Pickard off the skate of Fedor Tyutin, Calgary’s fifth goal in the last week against the Avalanche off an Avs player, just eight seconds into the man-advantage, giving Calgary the 1-0 lead late in the first and heading into the second period.
The second frame was more of the same, only with Colorado amping up the part where they take penalties, putting Calgary up a man three more times in the period. Colorado successfully killed off the first two before finally succumbing to the self-inflicted wounds by giving up another power play goal, this time to Mikael Backlund, whose torrid scoring pace recently continued with him feasting on an Avalanche defensive pairing of Fedor Tyutin and Francois Beauchemin that was more interested in needlessly turning in circles than actually defending shooters and puck-carriers. The goal made it 2-0 going into the third period, a position so familiar for the Avalanche there was almost no use in playing the final frame.
The third period was more Calgary doing whatever they wanted to and Colorado not seeming to care very much and T.J. Brodie’s individual effort against an apathetic Avalanche defense allowed Alex Chiasson to score a mostly uncontested goal about a foot in front of Pickard and make it 3-0, removing whatever doubt might have foolishly remained about the outcome.
To continue their apathy, Colorado took two more careless stick infractions just seconds apart and Johnny Gaudreau would light the lamp with a creative play behind the Avs net where he simply juked Pickard and buried the opportunity, making it 4-0.
Patrick Wiercioch broke Brian Elliott’s shutout bid 58 minutes into the game when he took a pass from Jarome Iginla, walked into the offensive zone and beat Elliott five hole with a weak backhand shot.
1. Mark Giordano
2. Alex Chiasson
3. Brian Elliott
PLAY OF THE GAME
The Versteeg goal was vintage Avalanche this season as he blindly spun and fired the puck in the general vicinity of the net and it happened to take the perfect deflection off an Avs’ skate and into the net. It was cruel but this season has been a series of cruelties strung together.
Backlund’s power-play goal at the end of the second period was the proverbial dagger in Colorado’s hopes of winning as their offense was in the midst of a complete no-show, making two goals too tall of a task to come back from.
BY THE NUMBERS
Colorado returns to the house of horrors known as the Pepsi Center for a Friday night tilt against the New York Islanders. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. MST.