As painful as it is, sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the opposing goalie and move on.
The Avalanche didn’t play poorly Monday in their 3-0 loss to the very good and underrated Carolina Hurricanes at the Pepsi Center. They fired shots at goalie Petr Mrazek
from all directions and just couldn’t put one past him.
NO 38 SPECIAL
Mrazek stopped 38 shots, 13 in the third period, for his sixth consecutive win and third shutout in his past eight games for a Hurricanes squad that has an outside chance to finish first in the Metropolitan Division.
Not that it’s any consolation for the Avalanche, who wasted a golden opportunity to pick up two precious points, move ahead of Arizona into ninth place in the Western Conference and tie Minnesota with 74 points, though the Wild would still hold the second wild card playoff position with more regulation/overtime wins.
The Wild and Coyotes both lost Monday, but the Avalanche remain two points behind Minnesota and one point behind Arizona with only 12 regular-season games remaining.
The Avalanche have two games left on the homestand – Friday against Anaheim and Sunday afternoon against New Jersey – and they will have to win both to stay in the playoff hunt.
Those games will be followed by road games in Minnesota and Dallas, the outcomes of which could very well decide if Colorado has a realistic chance to take part in the postseason.
“Every game is an opportunity to take two points, that is what you are fighting for every night," coach Jared Bednar
said. “We are fortunate that they lose and we are still right there. (We) would have loved to have a couple points but give (the Hurricanes) credit, they are a good team. They worked hard, they defended hard, we made a couple mistakes that end up in the back of our net. They obviously made a few too, but we didn't finish them off.”
The Avalanche had two early power plays in the first period but didn’t do much with either of them. It was the same story on their third and final power play late in the second period while trailing 1-0.
“You got to find a way to get marginally better,” Bednar said. “Be a little more hungry at the net, come up with a couple rebounds, whatever it is. Keep trying to eliminate those mistakes and try to play a perfect game defensively. I have said it all along, it is probably going to come down right to the wire. Certainly, you would love to have two points and be back up in a spot, but it didn't happen so now we got to move on.”
took four shots in the third period, most of them quality chances. His best came with about 9 minutes remaining when Mrazek managed to reach back with his stick to deny Wilson with a sensational stop.
“It’s frustrating,” Wilson said. “There are things that we could have done better to score, myself especially. (We) played a good game, we just couldn't put the puck in the net. (Mrazek) did a good job. I think there were one or two of those I think I just should have buried.”
had seven shots, Tyson Barrie
had five, and J.T. Compher
and Mikko Rantanen
each had three.
had another solid start, turning aside 30 of 32 shots before Andrei Svechnikov
completed a three-point night with an empty-net goal.
Grubauer has allowed four goals in his past four starts while making 107 saves, yet the Avalanche only won twice in this stretch.
“We just couldn’t beat Mrazek,” Bednar said. “I thought he was outstanding. I really liked Grubauer, but Mrazek was really good.”
The win was the first in regulation on the road for the Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers against the Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques since Feb. 1, 1994, a 2-1 Whalers win in Quebec.