The Colorado Avalanche haven’t been happy with their defensive play recently, especially the breakdowns while short-handed. They were just as frustrated at the end of their last game against the Minnesota Wild.
The slumping Avalanche visit Minnesota on Friday in the opener of a home-and-home series against the Wild.
Colorado (14-7-4) had one of the NHL’s stingiest defenses in October when the Northwest Division leaders went 10-1-2 to start the month while giving up an average of 2.2 goals. In recent weeks, though, the Avalanche have struggled to limit opponents, losing six of eight (2-4-2) while allowing 4.8 goals per game.
Colorado lost for the third time in four contests Wednesday night, falling 4-3 in overtime to red-hot Nashville. The Avalanche scored three times in the second to overcome a 2-0 deficit, but the Predators tallied a power-play goal late in the period and netted the game-winner 3:07 into the extra session.
“When you get behind two goals it is hard to come back in this league,” rookie defenseman Ryan Wilson(notes), who scored his second goal of the season, told the Avalanche’s official Web site. “Even with us coming back by scoring three goals in the second, it take a lot out of you.”
Colorado has given up six power-play goals over the last four games, killing nine short-handed situations in that span. It began the season allowing 15 power-play goals in 90 opportunities.
After concluding this home-and-home set Saturday in Colorado, the Avalanche begin a five-game road trip Monday against Tampa Bay.
Colorado’s recent trips to the Xcel Energy Center haven’t gone well, however. Its 1-4-4 in the last nine trips, scoring two or fewer goals in eight of those contests, including a 3-2 shootout loss in St. Paul on Oct. 21.
The Avalanche gave up two power-play goals in that game, including a tying score late in the third period.
Minnesota (8-12-3), last in the Northwest, is coming off a 2-1 shootout loss to Boston on Wednesday night. The Wild, who snapped a three-game losing streak with a victory over the New York Islanders in their previous game, scored on a power play midway through the second period but were unable to convert again despite outshooting the Bruins 29-16.
“What we’re talking about now is making sure we don’t come out flat on Friday (against Colorado) and make sure we carry over all the good things we did tonight and keep making steps at becoming better,” coach Todd Richards said.
The Wild were without five key players Wednesday. Brent Burns(notes), Pierre-Marc Bouchard(notes) and Petr Sykora(notes) sat out with concussions while Martin Havlat(notes) (hamstring) and Antti Miettinen(notes) (illness) also did not play. It’s not certain when they’ll be back. Newly acquired Guillaume Latendresse(notes) could make his debut, though, after having to sit out the last game because of work visa issues.
Niklas Backstrom(notes) figures to make his fifth straight start for Minnesota looking to continue his stellar goaltending against the Avalanche. He is 12-2-2 with a 2.06 goals-against average in 16 starts against Colorado.