An early penalty led to Calgary’s first goal against, and three markers in the middle stanza effectively sealed the deal for the away team.
“We started alright, and then the second was just not very good,” defenseman Erik Johnson said of the effort. “Where we’re at right now in our season, we can’t afford to play a game like that; where we weren’t really in it halfway through the second period, and we didn’t have much of a chance. When we’re battling for such crucial points like we are now, we have to be in every game.
“That one just hurts because we’ve got a lot of games at home coming up, and we had the one point against Chicago [on Thursday]. So we really wanted to respond here tonight in front of a good crowd that supported us. It’s just one that we let slip away. We have to be in every game. We can’t lay an egg like that. It’s not acceptable.”
The Avs entered the evening just four points behind the Nashville Predators for a playoff berth and needed to hold the Flames at bay in order to keep a handle on the standings. With the loss, they’re now six points behind the Predators, who won their Saturday matchup.
“We saw what Nashville did. We want to stay on their heels,” Johnson said. “We had a great crowd supporting us [that] paid good money to see us play, and we didn’t have a good game at all. It’s something we have to put behind us, learn from and next game be ready to go.
“Calgary is a hardworking team, and we lost almost all our battles. It wasn’t very good from halfway through the first period on, and it just hurts because we’re right there.”
Discipline is one area of emphasis that contributed to the Avalanche’s loss. The club was called for seven penalties—three in the first and four in the third—and made poor, panicky decisions on key plays that resulted in momentum the other way.
“I don’t know what to say. Tonight is a tough one to talk about, just because I think we put ourselves behind the eight ball,” forward Matt Duchene said. “I don’t think we gave ourselves a chance to compete tonight, and then we made some errors 5-on-5. When I say we didn’t give ourselves a chance to compete, I’m talking about the penalties. It’s tough to take that many and have [such few] power plays for and still compete. You’re trying to regroup and get reset all the time. You lose momentum, and they gain momentum. Our PK did a great job, but obviously we weren’t able to get it going 5-on-5.”
Colorado only gave up one power-play tally for the 13:10 seconds spent in isolation in the penalty box, and both the players and head coach Patrick Roy agreed that a couple of the infractions were necessary, though undesired.
“I think some of them were good penalties we had to take, but at the same time we’re probably in those situations because we made a bad decision,” Duchene said. “I think we regroup and try to be more disciplined next game and get back to what we were doing well a few games ago.”
“Two of them were slashing penalties. Can I be happy about that, no, but it happens. There’s a reason why he slashed. We gave up an odd-man rush,” Roy said. “It’s part of the game. We’re going to take some penalties some nights, but at the same time the first goal they scored, we had a chance to clear and we missed our clear. A lot of times that happened. I’m going to give credit [to] our guys. I thought they did a decent job killing those penalties.”
According to Roy, the game was largely an off night for the team, one filled with pings off the post and near misses instead of solid goals.
“I felt that it was one of those nights where honestly I think we could have been here tomorrow and I’m not sure we’d have scored a goal yet. It was one of those nights where it was not clicking for us around the net. The puck was not bouncing, it was hitting the post,” he said. “Offensively, we just were not as sharp. We could not bear down on our chances.
“We had our chances, but I didn’t feel that we were as dangerous as we could have been around their net.”
Perhaps some of that can be attributed to the circus surrounding veteran forward Jarome Iginla and his looming 600th marker. Sure, the players said they would look for him to finish a shot while not surrendering a quality opportunity to score, but their actions said otherwise.
A few prime chances were cast away while looking for the perfect pass, which has typified the Avalanche’s overcomplicated play at home this season.
“We’re going to have to refocus. It’s not that I don’t want to see Iggy scoring his 600th, but we need to play our games here,” Roy said. “Tonight, I thought our focus was not as good. Is it because of it, I don’t know.
“Jarome is a team guy. I know he wants to see it, but the guys, at the same time, they would have loved to see that happen tonight against Calgary. Our guys are human. I think they mean well, but at the same time we had another very good crowd tonight. We need to be better in our building. We need to dominate in our building and be more dangerous. We have to play better hockey again in our building.”
For Johnson, the turnaround in Colorado’s home record starts with accountability on an individual level, and it needs to happen sooner than later.
“I think every guy’s got to be accountable. It starts with leaders in the room. You’ve got to look in the mirror and say, ‘Did you do everything you could have done to help the team tonight?’ I think it just comes down to really the details in our game,” he said. “There’s instances where we could have cleared the puck out in the first. Boom, boom, bang and it’s in the back of our net. We’re down 1-0. Turnover the puck in the second period, right in the back of our net. It’s not really anything they did to us but what we did to ourselves. So those are the things that maybe are a little encouraging; that we know what we did and know what needed to [be fixed] that can help us get going in the right direction.
“Every guy in here comes to the rink every day and wants to do well. I don’t think anyone has any other focus when they get to the rink other than playing a good game and getting two points. It’s just a matter of, when we’re at home like this and we have a string of games, we have to make sure we make it count. It’s unacceptable for anything we did tonight. It just wasn’t good enough.”
Center Carl Soderberg quietly reached a milestone of his own Saturday night in Denver as he skated in his 200th NHL contest.
|Carl Soderberg |
“I didn’t know it was my 200th today, but that’s pretty nice,” he said after the club’s morning skate. “Sometimes you have to think and realize that you really are in the NHL. All the hard work you have put in, it’s been working. Of course I’m happy for that.
“I think, like all kids [I wanted] to play in the NHL. Somewhere in the road, I didn’t think that much of the NHL, but all of the sudden four years ago, I wanted to try it again. Now, I’m here.”
Acquired via a trade with Boston on June 25, 2015, Soderberg has accrued 26 points (seven goals, 19 assists) in 39 games with the Avalanche this season, which includes 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in his last 15 matches.
“Soderberg’s been our best player—with [Blake] Comeau—[for] the last five or six games,” said Roy, praising the duo’s effort in Saturday’s loss. “The best line was clearly Soderberg’s.”