NEWARK, N.J.--The Colorado Avalanche did a lot of good things in its second game of the season, but the club is still working on bearing down on its scoring chances.
That is especially the case on the power play, as the team went scoreless with the extra skater in a 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday afternoon at Prudential Center. The Devils, on the other hand, scored three man-advantage tallies and added another shorthanded in their first contest of the season.
Colorado has a 1-1-0 record during the early days of the season, but it is 1-for-11 on the power play through its first two contests of the year. On the penalty kill, the Avs are 5-for-9.
"I think the biggest thing was our power play, [and] we weren't very good on the PK," said forward Nathan MacKinnon. "I mean our special teams has been letting us down the first two games of the season. I don't know what it was tonight, but it wasn't good enough. Hopefully we can be better in Boston."
Head coach Jared Bednar noted that the Avalanche had too many failed clearing attempts during penalty kills early in the contest, and it ended up costing the team.
"We had the puck on our tape, and I can't tell you how many times, at least four or five times in the first period, and we didn't even get it past our blue line," Bednar said. "You got to take the extra second to get your feet moving, get your body around it and use your forehand to get it down the length of the ice. Even moving onto the second period, our first penalty kill, didn't get it down twice and then its 45 more seconds in our zone and it ends up in the back of our net. You can't kill penalties in this league when you're exhausted. When you don't get the puck down the ice, those come back to haunt you. It's pretty simple for me."
So how will the Avalanche fix its early season struggles on special teams?
"We have to watch video I think," MacKinnon said. "It's hard to pinpoint one thing. Hopefully we can figure it out."
The positives from Saturday included Colorado generating more shots in the second half of the contest and the strong play by goalie Jonathan Bernier.
The Avs outshot the Devils 41-39 in the game, and Bernier looked sharp, especially in the opening stanza when New Jersey outshot Colorado 17-10.
"I think the first period, we just lost too many of the 50-50 puck battles," Bednar said. "We were skating, and we were moving the puck OK but like every 50-50 puck they come up with it. That's why the shot discrepancy was there. We got more competitive on the puck in the second and third period."
The Avalanche has one practice to clean up those areas of its game before playing another matinee contest. Colorado faces the Boston Bruins in an early outing at TD Garden on Monday for Columbus Day.
BERNIER'S STRONG DEBUT
Jonathan Bernier picked up where fellow netminder Semyon Varlamov left off on Thursday against the New York Rangers.
Bernier had a strong 35-save performance, but he couldn't pick up the victory like Varlamov did two days earlier.
"I felt alright. You want to make more saves to have a tighter game, and I wasn't able to do that in the second," Bernier said of his performance. "I thought we played really well in the second, and we ended up behind by two goals. I have to find a way to make more saves."
It was Bernier's first-ever start in the regular season with the Avalanche after signing with the club as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.
He was busy early on, stopping 16 shots in the first period.
"He looked great. He gave us a chance to win," said Nathan MacKinnon. "Him and Varly have been great the first two games this season, and it is up to us to play better in front of him."
Bernier's best stop of the night was early in the second period, as he went post to post and flashed the glove to deny Damon Severson's shot before the puck went into the net. The play was reviewed by the officials, and it was determined that the puck did not totally cross the goal line before Bernier snatched it away.
"I actually made a mistake, and I actually dropped down too quick," Bernier said of the stop. "That was my last resort, to kind of dive. I kept my head on it, and I was able to make that glove save."
WELCOME TO THE SEASON
The Avalanche had four more players make their season debuts after being out of the lineup on opening night.
Forward Carl Soderberg and defenseman Nikita Zadorov, who were healthy scratches for Thursday's opener at the New York Rangers, played against the Devils, as did D-man Anton Lindholm.
Lindholm was recalled from the San Antonio Rampage on Friday and joined the Avs for practice later in the day. He was one of the final cuts on Tuesday when Colorado had to submit its initial 23-man roster to the league.
Soderberg scored the Avalanche's only marker.
Goaltender Jonathan Bernier received his first start of the campaign in net after backing up Semyon Varlamov in the season opener.
Forward Matt Nieto and defensemen Mark Barberio and Andrei Mironov were the Avs' healthy scratches.