Avalanche

Top line frustrated as Avalanche shut out again

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4JRWVjaExQ

No NHL team has suffered a bigger percentage drop in local television ratings than your Colorado Avalanche, and if you were one of the few who tuned in all the way through Monday's broadcast against the Arizona Coyotes, you have our sympathies.

In a dreadful hockey game, the Coyotes edged out the Avs, 1-0 at Gila River Arena. This is the product the NHL brass would like to have you believe makes for suspenseful viewing until the end. Hey, it was close, wasn't it?

Don't be conned. The product in this one was atrocious. When no one can score, games are automatically going to be close. Even NHL legends such as Mike Bossy are having a hard time watching the sport these days.

The Avs were fortunate to lose by as narrow a final margin as they did. Calvin Pickard made a few full-value saves, including a desperation glove stab of Tobias Rieder in the second period that got Altitude play-by-play man Mike Haynes quite excited. For Haynes, there were precious few such moments.

Sven Andrighetto lost a puck in his skates at the Coyotes blue line, and that led to the only goal of the first two periods. Andrighetto was trying to gain control of a loose puck and wheel back into the offensive zone when he kicked it away, leading to a 3-on-2 break the other way. Brendan Perlini finished it off by shooting the puck just under Pickard's glove hand, for a 1-0 lead at 3:49 of the second.

The most interesting storyline for the Avalanche entering this one was the formation of Matt Duchene centering a line with Gabe Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen. And how did that go? Take a look at Duchene's reaction after being stopped on a doorstep chance midway through the third, after being set up with a saucer pass from Rantanen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fc0TMt8ThsQ

Yeah, that's about how it went. For Duchene, it's just a dreadful time. It was his 11th straight game without a point. In fairness to him, he was probably the Avs' best player in that third period and should have gotten a point with under a minute left.

He was robbed again by Smith from the left crease, then was robbed of an assist when Smith foiled Nathan MacKinnon with an even better rebound opportunity.

Smith is a certified Avs killer. The win moved him to 10-1-4 in his career against Colorado. He had to work for it in the third, especially in that final minute, but the Avs didn't press him too hard in those first 40 minutes.

Poor J.T. Compher; The Avs rookie had a breakaway in the first period and had Smith beat off the backhand, but his shot hit the post and skittered away. For Compher, it was his seventh NHL game. He's still looking for his first NHL point. In fairness to him, other guys who are getting more ice time and more money are having a little trouble putting the puck in right now too.

The Coyotes earned the win. They just worked a little harder than the Avs in all the right areas, including faceoffs (53-47%), hits (22-15), and blocks (13-7). After a couple wins in succession, the Avs have dropped a couple in a row and now have back-to-back dates with the Detroit Red Wings.

If there's any consolation, Avs fans: Detroit isn't going to the playoffs either.

THREE STARS

  1. Mike Smith
  2. Calvin Pickard
  3. Brendan Perlini

UP NEXT: Detroit, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Pepsi Center.



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