HIGHLIGHTS







GAME RUNDOWN

Coming off an impressive blowout of the Washington Capitals, the Colorado Avalanche were looking to maintain a little momentum and try to string a couple wins together as they took to the road to take on the Nashville Predators, a team that had beaten them seven consecutive times coming into tonight.

The first period was marred with penalties and choppy play and the Avalanche were the beneficiaries of almost all of it as they saw 11 minutes on the power play, including a five-minute power play courtesy of Austin Watson’s illegal hit on Dominic Toninato, who was three shifts into his NHL career. The Avalanche set the tone of incompetence that would dog them the rest of the game as they not only failed to score on any of their power plays but failed to generate much in the way of scoring chances.

With the teams back to even strength, everyone knew any Colorado misstep would result in a penalty and forward Alexander Kerfoot was the first guy to make the mistake as he was called for Tripping near the end of the first period. As how it always goes for the Avs in Nashville, the Predators wasted no time capitalizing on the Colorado mistake and Craig Smith enjoyed the luxury of defensemen Mark Barberio and Andrei Mironov not feeling inclined to deal with rebounds as he easily deposited the free puck behind goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who did well to stop the initial shot. The 1-0 lead into the first intermission felt like a 10-0 lead given how the period had gone and just how terrible the Avs were.

The second period began with a little more of the same as the Predators tilted the ice Colorado’s way and the Avalanche struggled to mount much of a pushback. Have felt satisfied with their performance in the first, the officials decided the high-sticking that took Mikko Rantanen out behind the Colorado net was no big deal and Nashville took advantage of the injured player by playing keep away with the puck before Colton Sissons finally got bored with the shenanigans and scored to make it 2-0.

The Predators would wait just another minute before going back to the part where they score and Colorado feels bad about itself as this time defenseman Anthony Bitetto took advantage of Kerfoot’s wandering defense and blasted a shot from a few feet inside the blue line past Varlamov to make it 3-0 and essentially seal the game away. Colorado would get a few more power-play chances in the second but the offense stubbornly refused to revert back to the successful form that saw them score six goals just two days ago and carried the burden of a three-goal deficit into the third period.

The final frame of the game featured a continuation of the first two periods – Colorado gets a power play, doesn’t do anything with it, Nashville gets a power play and scores. This time around defenseman Mattias Ekholm was the guy getting in on the action to extend Colorado’s misery and put his team ahead 4-0. Instead of waiting for another power play goal against, the Predators turned a delayed call into a goal as Viktor Arvidsson deflected a P.K. Subban shot past Varlamov to make it 5-0.

Not everything in Avalanche-land was terrible as Andrei Mironov scored his first NHL goal late in the game to make it 5-1 and break the shutout bid by goaltender Pekka Rinne. Nikita Zadorov recorded the primary assist and Kerfoot notched the secondary. Now in their offensive rhythm, the Avs notched another one on a nice breakout by Mironov that led to a great play between Kerfoot and J.T. Compher, with Compher scoring on the backhand to make it 5-2 and bring the game to its final score.

THREE STARS

1. Anthony Bitetto

2. Pekka Rinne

3. Craig Smith

TURNING POINT

Colorado failing to score at all in the first period despite 11 minutes of power play time and then taking any penalty at all. Kerfoot was the man with the mistake tonight and it gave Nashville its first power play and predictably the lead.

BY THE NUMBERS

WHAT’S NEXT

Colorado returns to action tomorrow afternoon against the Detroit Red Wings at their new arena. Puck drop is 4 PM MT.

AJ Haefele

This Aurora, Colorado native moved to Katy, Texas at a young age but found himself right back at home in 2009 and would begin covering the Avalanche a year later.

Before joining BSN Denver, A.J. had been writing for and briefly managed the popular Avalanche blog, Mile High Hockey. A.J. has been providing detailed practice reports, training camp coverage, and in-depth looks at the Avalanche and their divisional foes since 2010.

  • This is the second time in three games that the Avs proven unable to get the puck into the zone against a trap-style defense in which the defensemen are very good players. The Avs need to figure that out, because the powerplays, especially the second unit without the advantage of MacKinnon’s speed, were pathetic at zone entries.

    I actually thought overall the top line was pretty good, as was Soderberg’s line and even Toninanto’s. They just got stoned by a good goalie. With a few more successful zone entries and a couple of bounces this could have been a very different game.

    The one really worrying thing for me was how inneffective overall Sam Gerard was in this game. Nashville clearly had a plan for him and it worked to perfection. The second he had the puck they had a guy right up on him, and rather than trying to take the puck from him they just played the body. That strategy proved to be very effective, and as a result Gerard looked very human. My worry is that this is a sign of things to come when the rest of the league figures him out the way Nashville did – and you know other coaches will watch the film from this game. Hopefully Gerard can learn to adjust and take advantage, but there’s nothing he can do to get bigger, and meanwhile I noticed he was well out of position several times defensively.

    • bob_w

      And there was an uncalled slash that caused Soderberg to miss the puck on an open net.

      • OCMS

        Yup. His stick didn’t break and I’m sure the refs decided that they had called enough penalties on Nash.

        • bob_w

          I’m pretty sure the stick got the hands. If the refs made that kind of decision they should not be refs anymore. But I’m not in charge of the refs.

          • OCMS

            I am not saying the non-call was correct. Just that this is how the NHL is officiated. Always has been. Refs make calls based on many factors beyond whether or not an infraction was committed. I’m not defending it.

          • bob_w

            Yeah. I understand, but there was supposed to be an emphasis on the slashing calls this season and in my opinion it is a little early to stop making those calls if they want to change player behavior.

    • Pat King

      I thought Girard looked good, even when he made mistakes he got back to cover them… much more of an effort than most of our defense. I like when PK Subban spins the crowd ooos and awwws but when Girard does it all game long no one cares. I really like his skating and passing and puck control for a 19 year old.

      • I’m not saying he was bad enough to deserve a demotion or a scratch, but compared to how dominant he has been so far, this was definitely his worst game.

    • Chris DeMott

      At 9 games in to his professional career I’m going to guess that Girard has enough growth potential to make those adjustments. It is a lot to ask a kid of 19 to play as unsheltered as they have. I think the game will quickly slow down for him. As teams begin to over commit to the body that will further open up passing lanes and we’ve all seen what he can do with those.