November 5, 2015 Game 13 Gila River Arena Glendale, AZ
After an impressive finish against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night the Avalanche jumped out to a strong start in Arizona, buzzing the Coyotes net with a flurry of early shot-attempts.It was the Coyotes, however, who would find the back of the net first, as defenseman Nicklas Grossmann beat Varlamov through a screen.The goal, just 7 minutes into the opening frame sucked the wind right out of the Avs’ sails and titled the ice firmly in favor of the Coyotes for the duration of the period.
A topsy-turvy second period saw three pucks cross the red-line in the first 6 minutes of play.First the Avalanche gave up a carbon copy of their first goal, turning the puck over in their own zone, then screening Varlamov and deflecting the puck on it’s way to the net.This time it was Tobias Rieder with the shot and captain Gabe Landeskog with the deflection that sent the puck through Varlamov’s five-hole.
Just sixty seconds later with the Avalanche reeling, Erik Johnson took the puck end-to-end and danced through the Arizona defense for a great chance all alone with goaltender Mike Smith.Cody McLeod was quick to follow Johnson into the crease and buried the rebound to bring the Avalanche within a goal.
The Coyotes would answer back after another fortuitous bounce at the expense of Semyon Varlamov.The Avalanche goaltender made a routine save that bounced off his pad and off the back checking Ben Street and back towards the net.Battling with former Avalanche forward Steve Downie, Street lost his balance and fell with the puck into Varlamov.While the two were tangled up in the net, the puck slid across the goal line, giving Grossmann his 2nd tally of the night.
If the Avalanche have proven one thing in their first 13 games, it's that mentally, they are a very fragile team. Those issues persisted tonight as the Avalanche completely fell apart when the Coyotes scored their 3rd goal and played sloppy undisciplined hockey until the last few minutes of the game.
With 4:00 remaining in the game Matt Duchene made a remarkable power move to cut inside and bury the puck top shelf past Mike Smith. The goal by Duchene spurred a series of excellent chances for the Avalanche but they couldn't find an equalizer late. Jordan Martinook put an end to the Avs' comeback attempt with an empty net goal with 15 seconds left to play.
More alarming than the loss, the anemic power play, or the continuing defensive issues was an apparent hand injury to Nathan MacKinnon in the game's final minute.
Nicklas Grossmann: 2G 3SOG +2 20:20 TOI
Jordan Martinook: 1G 20:15 TOI
Tobias Rieder: 1G 3SOG +2
PLAY OF THE GAME
The Coyotes scored dirty ugly goals tonight, so the play of the game goes to Erik Johnson for his assist on Cody McLeod's 2nd period tally.
Nicklas Grossmann's second goal of the game not only beat the Avalanche down mentally but also wound up being the game winner.
BY THE NUMBERS
QUOTE OF THE GAME
Former player and current Altitude analyst Mark Rycroft during the 2nd intermission on the team's play in front of Varlamov and defensive zone turnovers:
"This is not complicated as to why the Avalanche are down 3-1. It's simple hockey. They can't break out of these terrible habits and if they don't it's going to be a painful hockey season as it's painful so far watching this game."
It's getting late very early in the Avalanche's young season. With every loss the Avalanche slip further and further behind the rest of the unwavering Central Division. To gain any headway in the standings the Avalanche will need to go on a prolonged winning streak, but 13 games into the NHL season they are yet to win in consecutive games.
In the game's final minute Nathan MacKinnon appeared to injure his right hand. Should that injury be serious it would be a significant blow to the Avalanche's attempt to save their season.
UPDATE: MacKinnon's hand apparent hand injury at the end of the game may not be serious. According to head coach Patrick Roy: "I think MacKinnon will be fine."
The Avalanche return home tomorrow night Friday, November 6 to face the New York Rangers at 7:00 MST.