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Rapid Response Needed After Loss To Knights

The Avalanche plays the Chicago Blackhawks at home Saturday

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The Colorado Avalanche is aiming for that whatever happened in Vegas will stay in Vegas after the team's first regular-season trip to the city didn't go as planned. Not even close.

Colorado will have to respond quickly as it prepares for the second half of a back-to-back following a 7-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday afternoon at T-Mobile Arena. The Avalanche hosts the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night.

"Whether you win or you lose, you got to be able to turn the page and move on," said Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog after the loss. "Big division opponent tomorrow coming into Pepsi Center, and we're excited to get rid of this one and move on to tomorrow. I think as a group we know what we got to do better, and we know that things got away from us tonight. We just got to learn from it."

The margin of defeat is striking, but the Avalanche played fairly decent for long stretches of the matinee, which took place just steps from the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. After a slow first few minutes, Colorado began to dominate possession but couldn't convert.

The Avs outshot the Knights 8-6 in the first period and had a 10-1 shot advantage in the first seven minutes of the second frame before momentum began to swing against them. Vegas scored its first three goals off Colorado turnovers in the Knights' defensive zone and finished the period with four tallies on seven shots.

"I think for us, we come out and I think the first five minutes of the first period we're a little bit sleepy and we don't really have our legs under us," Landeskog said. "But once we get going and get a big penalty kill in the first period and we get on the power play, it gives us a little bit of momentum. In the second, obviously, there are bounce that aren't going our way."

Those bounces included a shot that caromed off the end wall and right to a Golden Knights player with an open net to shoot at, a possible offside that wasn't called--the play was reviewed and upheld--and a perfect deflection in the slot that sent the puck over Semyon Varlamov's shoulder before the Avalanche goaltender could react.

Making matters worse was that Colorado suffered a couple more injuries, as Gabriel Bourque and Alexander Kerfoot were unable to finish the outing after getting hurt. The Avs' injured list seems to be growing every game as two of their key young players in J.T. Compher (broken thumb) and Tyson Jost (lower body) are on injured reserve and veteran forward Colin Wilson missed his second straight game with a hip injury.

Kerfoot left the game at the 10:06 mark of the third period. He was on the receiving end of a viscous hit to the head by Vegas' Brayden McNabb after passing the puck in the neutral zone. Kerfoot immediately went to the locker room, while Nathan MacKinnon stood up for his teammate and fought McNabb.

"Our team is closer this year, for sure. Guys get along. They like one another," said Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar. "To me, our penalty kill tonight and that particular play (MacKinnon's fight) were probably the only two positives that you can take out of that (game)."

The Avalanche didn't allow more than eight shots in any of the three periods, holding the Golden Knights to 21 total in the outing. Colorado also finished with a 56-51 edge in total shot attempts, but losing by a touchdown on the scoreboard is the stat that stings and matters the most.

Moving on from its worst loss of the young season will be vital for the Avalanche.

"You have to have a short-term memory in this business," Bednar said. "After the highs and after the lows, and that was certainly a low point for us tonight. Not only the loss, but losing all of those guys too. You know what, tomorrow is a new day. It is a chance to prove ourselves. We've responded in the past after games like that, and we'll have to do it again tomorrow night."

The Blackhawks are also in a back-to-back situation, as they lost 2-1 to the Nashville Predators at home on Friday night. Chicago's game began at around the same time as Colorado's outing in Las Vegas was wrapping up.

Friday's 3 p.m. local time puck drop was in celebration of Nevada Day, a state holiday where many Las Vegas schools and businesses are closed for.

POSSIBLE CALL-UPS LOOMING

Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar didn't have an update on the injuries to Gabriel Bourque and Alexander Kerfoot following the game, but the club will likely have to recall a player or two from the American Hockey League if neither forward is available on Saturday.

Bourque suffered an upper-body injury midway through first period, while the exact nature of Kerfoot's ailment isn't known at this time.

"We're running out of bodies rapidly here. We'll come up with a plan for tomorrow," Bednar said. "We play tomorrow night against Chicago, so we'll figure out who is healthy and who can play and who can't, and all of that will be determined tonight. We'll probably get some bodies on the move."

The San Antonio Rampage, the Avalanche's AHL affiliate, defeated the San Jose Barracuda 3-1 on Friday night at home and host the San Diego Gulls on Saturday.

LINEUP NOTES

Patrik Nemeth was back in the Avalanche lineup after missing the club's game on Tuesday with a lower-body injury. He was paired on defense with Tyson Barrie, his previous rear-guard partner before getting hurt.

Defensemen Andrei Mironov and Nikita Zadorov were Colorado's healthy scratches, while forward Colin Wilson remained out of the lineup with a hip injury. He is listed as day-to-day.

Goaltender Semyon Varlamov made his seventh start of the year and played the entire contest.

With the Avs not making a goaltending switch in the game and given the final score, conventional wisdom would lean toward Jonathan Bernier playing in goal versus Chicago. More will be known before Saturday's contest.

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