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A Few Mistakes Make All The Difference

by Ryan Boulding @rboulding / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Fragile.

That's the best word to describe the Colorado Avalanche right now, and it's a word that the team is using.

"Going into the third with a lead, that has to be something. That's got to be automatic," captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "For whatever reason, [we're] a fragile group that doesn't have a whole lot of confidence in playing with leads. They get one and I still feel like our energy is up on the bench, and obviously they get a second one off of that faceoff. That's what happens when you're a bit fragile and you haven't played well with leads so far."

Just over 24 hours after the organization traded the most tenured player on the team, Cody McLeod, to the Nashville Predators, the Avs managed to let a 2-1 lead slip away in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the very same Predators.

Video: Gabe Landeskog after loss to Nashville

The home team was up entering the third period but down when the final horn sounded.

The hardest part of the defeat was the fact that Colorado had put together a game-winning effort for the duration of the match. It was just a handful of mistakes that turned a looming win into another loss.

"I think we did that to ourselves a little bit in the third period. We stay up on a play, and they get a guy in behind us on one. We take the wrong group on the faceoff and they get a chance, too," head coach Jared Bednar said. "It's two plays where I think that we're not sharp. We don't do the right thing. That's the way it's going. We make mistakes. I don't know. I'll look back at the tape on the scoring chances, but they didn't have a bundle of them, I'll tell you that. We missed out on a couple of our opportunities, and we lose 3-2."

The Avs didn't go down without a fight however, and things took a turn for the dramatic late in the final frame when the Colorado appeared to have scored the equalizer. Only it was overruled as the whistle had been blown prior to the puck crossing the goal line.

"I think the referee, he just lost sight of it and blew the whistle, but from my angle I see the puck loose the whole way and [Matt Duchene] pokes it in," Landeskog said, disagreeing with the call on the ice. "At the same time, I guess the ref was told to blow it down when he doesn't see it and loses sight of it. So it is what it is."

Video: Coach Bednar on loss to the Predators

"Well he blew the whistle. If he loses sight of it, he blew the whistle clearly before we shot it into the net. That's what I see," Bednar said. "Do I think he should have blown the whistle? I think it was loose, but no, I don't think it would have counted."

All in all, it wasn't a losing effort from Colorado. The squad finished with 30 shots on goal, 53 attempts at the net and some solid momentum.

"I felt like we played a strong game. I feel offensively, we're getting better and we're creating a whole lot more shots," Landeskog said. "We got to keep doing that. As frustrating as this is, in my mind we tied it up at the end and we're going into overtime right now. But things happen and we didn't come up with any points.

"I know it sucks telling you guys this, but we have to keep building off of this and we have to keep getting better. If we hang our heads over this one, it's only going to get worse. We have to take the positives and move forward, and really tonight I feel like we did some good things."

Veteran defenseman Francois Beauchemin agreed with the assessment.

"We did a lot of good things. Going into the third, we had a good feeling. We had a big kill at the end of the second. We had three minutes to kill," Beauchemin said. "We didn't give them much, and then it felt like coming into the third we would feel good about ourselves. We were back in the offensive zone the first shift. Mikko [Rantanen] controlled the puck behind the net and then hit Tyson [Barrie], who had a good shot. It was a good start for us, but after that it was just a couple mistakes."

Video: Francois Beauchemin postgame comments

In the end, the difference between winning and losing teetered on a razor's edge, and the smallest breakdown or mental mistake can and did change the outcome for Colorado.

"I thought we played hard tonight. I liked our game tonight a lot. We look at that from the scoring chances we create, how hard we play, how many we give up; that's a pretty solid game by our group," Bednar said. "Just kind of goes to show us that we have a small margin for error, so we got to be nearly perfect. We certainly can't give them easy ones.

"Penalty kill was great. I thought the penalty kill was awesome, even the first penalty of the game. The shifts were short. They were killing with pace. The right routes, good sticks, we were getting our clears down the ice. I thought that was the best part of our game tonight. They kind of set the tone coming off that five-minute major to keep us in the game, and we probably gained a little momentum off that."

 

IGINLA PASSES YZERMAN

When he took the ice to start the game on Saturday, Avalanche veteran Jarome Iginla did what he usually does these days.

He continued cementing his name in National Hockey League lore.

The 39-year-old veteran moved up in the NHL record books, this time passing Steve Yzerman for sole possession of 15th place in all-time games played, the second the puck dropped in the contest. 

The Edmonton, Alberta, native has now appeared in 1,515 career matches. The next closest player on the Avs roster is Fedor Tyutin, who has 838 contests under his belt.

Iginla is just nine games behind Brendan Shanahan (1,524) for 14th all time.

 

FAREWELL TO ARMS

The Colorado Avalanche bid farewell to a staple on Saturday, as 10-year veteran forward Cody McLeod faced off on the visitor's side of the ice for the first time in his NHL career.

Signed as an undrafted free agent on July 6, 2006, McLeod was traded to the Nashville Predators prior to Friday's practice at Family Sports Center.

Tweet from @Avalanche: The #Avs honored 55 during the 1st period. pic.twitter.com/9mBGspCdG3 

The 32-year-old forward's 659 games played for the burgundy and blue was tops among those currently on the club. His 1,359 penalty minutes are also the most in Avs history and third most in the franchise's annals.

Duchene is now the longest tenured player on the roster with 531 contests played.

McLeod had a good debut with the Nashville Predators, finishing with a goal, a fight and ultimately the win.

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