One minute is all that separated the Colorado Avalanche from heading down the tunnel to its dressing room to what should have been an even hockey game. The first 19 minutes of the second period had been proof positive that whatever fatigue leftover from a game the day before in Minnesota had been effectively excised. The Avs dominated the Calgary Flames in those 19 minutes, evening their game on the scoreboard in the process and seemingly in good shape for the third.
But in a game in which players can get down the ice in three or four seconds, so much can happen in one minute, good or bad. The final minute of the second for the Avs?
Bad. Real bad.
Calgary scored two goals in that last minute of the second, and that turned out to be your hockey game. The Avs lost 3-2 to the Flames in their kickoff to a five-game homestand. Goals by Micheal Ferland and Mikael Backlund, at the 19:09 and 19:31 marks, ruined a game that had been trending well in the Avs’ favor with their youthful speed advantage.
“We didn’t have our legs really early. I thought we did a lot of standing around in that first period,” Jared Bednar said. “We just weren’t committed tonight to get the job done.”
Bednar said too many of his players “went off on their own” during too much of the game.
“What it turns into is, sloppy hockey. Turnovers all over the place,” he said.
The Ferland goal happened after Mikko Rantanen played a puck poorly near his own blue line. Sam Girard chipped a puck up to him, but Rantanen had his body facing toward his own goal, so when the puck came to him his only play was to move it forward – technically, for the Avs, backward. Sean Monahan took it right off Rantanen’s stick and fed Ferland down low for a chip-shot over Jonathan Bernier’s shoulder.
“I have to get (the puck) out there. But it’s one play and I can’t get it back anymore,” said a dejected Rantanen.
Said Bednar: “I’d like to see (Rantanen) get off the wall there and get outside the blue line. If a bouncing puck comes out there, it’s already outside the blue line. But that was just one part of the play that wasn’t done right.”
Then came Backlund’s goal, which resulted from a rebound off a Travis Hamonic shot that came right on his stick and a yawning cage. Tyson Barrie was being tied up by Matthew Tkachuk to do much of anything on the rebound.
Nikita Zadorov got a goal back with under three minutes left, but that would do it. It was the Avs’ second regulation home loss at Pepsi Center on the season.
“I think that first period, we tried to play an east-west kind of game and we’ve had success playing north and south,” said Bernier, who faced 28 shots. “They kind of drag you into that direction and they’re good at it, and they have that good second layer off the rush. But I thought we gave them those goals, especially late in the second.”
Said Bednar: “You could tell we were tired tonight, but that’s no excuse. They were playing on back-to-back nights too. We were home in bed last night already while they were still playing. I’m confident we’ll bounce back, but we’ve got to get back to work here, look at that game and why it happened, and try to be better.”