BROOKLYN, N.Y. – This game is a cruel mistress sometimes.
If there are truly some hockey gods up there, one of them really has it out for the Colorado Avalanche when it comes to overtime. On a day when it looked like this team would finally win a game in OT, that hockey god laughed and said, “Nope, nope, nope, not today boys. Instead, here’s what’s gonna happen: You’re gonna dominate the first two minutes of OT, you’re gonna hit the crossbar, you’re gonna have a top guy hooked on a breakaway and there’s gonna be no call. Then, when the other guys get the puck for the only time in OT, they’re gonna score on their first good shot. K, night.”
Losing for the 10th time in OT this season in 11 tries, the Avalanche lost in mind-numbingly frustrating fashion to the New York Islanders here at the Barclay’s Center, 4-3.
That’s six losses in a row for the Avs. The record in the last 25 games now is 5-15-5. Yes, a point was gained, and that’s something – thanks to another late, tying goal in regulation. The Avs can actually gain four out of six points on this Eastern road swing with a victory Sunday in Boston.
Anyone feeling optimistic?
The Avs were furious at losing that extra point here. Gabe Landeskog was about as mad after a loss as I’ve ever seen him. Not that he was ranting and raving, but he was mad. Mad at the refs, for not calling a hook on him he felt should have been called in OT, on what could have been a breakaway – the same kind of call made against him earlier in the game that led to a penalty and an Isles power-play goal.
But also, mad at himself for not shooting into a vacated net early in the third period, when the Avs had a 2-1 lead and linemate Mikko Rantanen had just intercepted a clearout attempt by Isles goalie Robin Lehner in a race to a loose puck. Rantanen got it over to Landeskog, who essentially had a 2-on-1 left with Nathan MacKinnon on his left – and Lehner off to the side boards.
Landeskog made what proved a fateful decision against his team. He tried to pass it over to MacKinnon, but the play got broken up. Bye-bye two-goal lead, hello tie game soon after.
“That one’s gonna haunt me. That was a stupid play. It’s one of those things where I hear Nate behind me and I think it’s a tap-in for him. And, meanwhile, I should just shoot it,” Landeskog told BSN Denver. “Bad play by me.”
Despite the 1-9 OT record coming in, Landeskog thought his team was going to win this one. And if not for a half-inch, they would have. Tyson Barrie started OT by coming down the right side and blasting a slap shot that had Lehner totally beat. But the puck hit the crossbar. Everybody on the Avs bench lept to their feet, thinking fate would smile on them this time.
“We were gonna go out and try to win the game,” Landeskog said. “Tyson hits crossbar, first shift. Then I’m on a breakaway and get hooked, no call from the refs.”
The Avs had themselves to blame for losing, too. It wasn’t all bad luck. They got outworked after taking a 2-0 lead, on goals by Carl Soderberg and Erik Johnson. They got too cute with the puck offensively, playing too much east-west hockey, when north-south had been working just fine. Why do the Avs keep doing things like that, especially a team that’s lost five straight?
Jared Bednar needs to find a way to put a stop to it.
Bednar tried to accentuate the positive afterward, saying he saw another step in the right direction in getting out of this mess. But he also admitted:
“We kind of let this one slip away from us a little bit. They’re a really good team. They forecheck really hard and they’re really disciplined. I liked what we were doing in overtime, but we don’t capitalize on a chance or two there.”
So, on to Boston.
This hex will end at some point, folks.
But it’s up to a hockey god who apparently isn’t quite done yet administering the misery.
OTHER TAKEAWAYS AND OBSERVATIONS
- Ryan Graves had been playing so well in the game until his giveaway that helped lead to Jordan Eberle’s goal with 1:47 left in the second period. He had just made a nice takeaway of the puck in the neutral zone, but he skated too far back in his own zone to try and corral it, and bad things happened from there. “A player like me should just take the easy way out,” Graves told BSN Denver. “I should have thrown it out and lived to play another day. I tried to chip it out and they knocked it down.”
- Graves got into New York at 1:30 a.m., after flying commercial. He’s the replacement for Ian Cole now, who is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury (See story here).
- I thought the Avs had a real good forecheck the first two periods. They took away time and space for Islanders defenders, and it helped make a solid difference. They need to do a lot more of that.
- That Erik Johnson goal, that made it 2-0, was a sick snipe. Suddenly, he’s got five goals on the season. He, too, needs to keep shooting the puck.
- Alexander Kerfoot got an assist on the Johnson goal, but, man, he overpassed again a couple times. Shoot the puck!
- Great game for Carl Soderberg. Points on all three goals.
- Overall, just not a good enough game from the top line. They just didn’t generate a lot out there, and chased the puck too much. They need to step up in Boston. This is the biggest game of the season, to this point.