The Colorado Avalanche had quality chances against the Carolina Hurricanes but could not convert on those opportunities.
Colorado had two power plays in the first frame and an additional man advantage in the second, however the team was unable to beat Carolina netminder Petr Mrzaek. The Avs outshot the Hurricanes 38-33 at Pepsi Center on Monday but ultimately fell 3-0.
"Two straight power plays early in the game, a chance to maybe get us a lead, didn't get it done," said head coach Jared Bednar. "I mean we got to score on some of our chances. I am just thinking of a couple--the shot on the entry that is laying on the goal line, we can't find a way to bang it in, they do a nice job of getting back on it.
"Mikko Rantanen walking out all alone in front of the net, there was a couple good ones in the second. In the third period, (Colin) Wilson alone probably had three or four really good ones in the paint. Breakaway, MacK (Nathan MacKinnon) walked in a couple times, we just couldn't beat Mrazek--I thought he was outstanding. I really liked (Philipp) Grubauer, but Mrazek was really good tonight."
Wilson had a couple different opportunities to end Mrazek's shutout effort, including on a 2-on-1 chance midway through the third. Wilson and Carl Soderberg broke into the offensive zone, and Soderberg picked up the rebound of the initial attempt and found Wilson alone in the slot. But, Mrazek was able to get his stick in the way of the ensuing shot just in time to stonewall the Avalanche.
Wilson finished the game with five shots on net, tying his season high. Four of his shots came in the final stanza of the contest.
"It is frustrating, obviously there are things that we could have done better to score, myself especially," said Wilson. "Played a good game, we just couldn't put the puck in the net.
"[Mrazek] did a good job. Obviously I think there was one or two of those I think I just should have buried, but aside from that I think he was moving side to side well."
Video: Colin Wilson after the loss to the Hurricanes
The Avalanche is now 15-10-6 against the Eastern Conference this year, including an 8-5-2 record at home, and finished the season series 1-1-0 against the Hurricanes.
Monday's contest marked Carolina's first-ever regulation win at Pepsi Center, and Colorado is now 11-1-1 against the Hurricanes in its home on Chopper Circle. It was the Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques first regulation loss on home ice to the Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers franchise since Feb. 1, 1994 (Hartford won 2-1).
The Avalanche also couldn't capitalize on a chance to recapture some ground in the Western Conference playoff race.
The Minnesota Wild and Arizona Coyotes, two of the teams that Colorado is chasing for the second wild-card spot in the West, both lost on Monday as well. The Avalanche remains two points back of the Wild, which sits in the second wild-card spot currently.
"Every game is an opportunity to take two points, that is what you are fighting for every night," said Bednar. "We are fortunate that they lose and we are still right there, 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.
"You got to find a way to get marginally better. 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."
Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar after the loss to Carolina
THE BIG SHOT: Nathan MacKinnon had seven shots in the contest to increase his total to 304 on net this season.
He is now just the third player (fourth time) in franchise history to record 300 or more shots in a single campaign. Joe Sakic rcorded 339 in 1995-96 and 332 in 2000-01, while Claude Lemieux had 315 in 1995-96.
MacKinnon has registered at least one shot in 139 consecutive games, the second-longest active streak in the NHL to the Hurricanes' Dougie Hamilton (234 straight outings).
HOMESTAND CONTINUES ON FRIDAY: Colorado will resume its four-game homestand on Friday after receiving a much-needed, three-day break between games.
The Avs have played 19 outings in the past 35 days and have not had more than one day between contests during that span.
"It is the last little break you get… We are going to need that rest both mentally and physically," said Bednar. "It is good to get away from it just for a second, just kind of decompress and then get back after it."
Colorado returns to action on Friday when it hosts the Anaheim Ducks in its annual Military Appreciation Game.
The homestay will conclude on Sunday in a matinee meeting with the New Jersey Devils, the Avalanche's final game against an Eastern Conference opponent this season.