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Avs Focused on Grinding Through Tough Stretch

Colorado had another strong work ethic game against the Stars

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Another tight affair, this one featuring 43 shots on goal and plenty of quality scoring chances, but the Colorado Avalanche couldn't collect the full two points in the standings.

That just seems how things are going right now for the Avalanche.

The Avs played their second straight game that needed overtime to decide the winner, but they came out on the losing end once again, this time falling 3-2 to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night at Pepsi Center.

"I thought we were engaged start to finish, played hard, checked hard, worked hard offensively," said head coach Jared Bednar. "I thought we played real hard, I don't know how else to summarize. It just seems like right now anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, again tonight we see it. We just got to keep grinding."

Colorado had a 2-0 lead after the first period, but Dallas chipped away at the lead and tied it at 2-2 with 5:23 left in the third stanza. The Stars entered the game with seven come-from-behind wins in the third period--most in the NHL--but it wasn't like the Avalanche was hunkered down and trying to survive the final 20 minutes.

The Avs had their looks in the third period, and they outshot the Stars in every regulation frame to finish with a 43-30 edge overall.

"I liked our push, even in the third period. We're up a goal, and we're still going after it," Bednar said. "We didn't want to sit back. We didn't want to let them come at us. We hit a couple posts, and a couple grade-A chances that we created besides those ones. Their goaltender made some saves."

Esa Lindell ended the contest 1:54 into overtime after a faceoff win by Dallas in the Colorado zone.

"We had a good game. You know, we played well. We didn't give them much, but unfortunately the goals we did give them were back breakers--part way through the third period and then obviously overtime," said veteran defenseman Ian Cole. "So for the most part it was good, but we still have to figure out how to complete games."

The Avalanche lost the first game of its five-game homestand on Friday in overtime in similar fashion. A tight game featuring chances both ways ending in an extra period loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Despite some of the losses, Bednar says his club is in a stretch of solid performances, though it only has two points to show for their effort after picking up back-to-back wins against the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 2 and at the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 4.

While Bednar wasn't pleased with his club's overall game in a loss on Jan. 7 at the New York Rangers, he did like the Avs' work ethic the previous night in a 1-0 loss at the New York Islanders and sees similarities between that contest and their most recent ones.

"It was frustrating because we had a lot of chances to score, same feeling like we got today," Bednar said when reflecting on that Islanders game. "You play a real good team in Pit, a real good team in Dallas, and we just come up a little bit short. We carve out a point in both of those. It's about your play, it's about your process, it's about your habits."

The pucks just don't seem to be bouncing Colorado's way right now, but the key for Bednar and the Avs is to keep grinding through the process and eventually the results will be there.

"You make one mistake and it seems like it ends up in the back of the net," Bednar said. "It's not goaltending tonight, our goaltender was excellent, [the other team is] finding ways to capitalize on chances and we're not. It's a confidence thing. We got to keep believing in what we're doing. I think you play like that, on most nights you're going to get two points."

YOU'RE OFFSIDE

Alexander Radulov thought he cut the Stars' deficit in half at 6:02 of the second period, but the Colorado coaches had other ideas.

Head coach Jared Bednar challenged the play for being offside during the entry into the zone, and on-ice officials agreed after reviewing the video, disallowing the goal.

The Avs are now 5-2 with coach's challenges this season, with Bednar last using it on Dec. 27 against Minnesota--another offside challenge to get a goal overturned.

DONSKOI UPDATE

Joonas Donskoi has been in concussion protocol for a week now, but the Colorado forward is making some good progress in his recovery.

Donskoi participated in Tuesday's optional morning skate as a non-contact participant after skating on his own for the previous three practice days.

"He's doing OK, skated this morning with the group after a couple days on his own and took some contact after practice, so if that goes well we can see him do his test and try and get him cleared for practice tomorrow," Bednar said on Tuesday morning.

Donskoi was hurt late in the first period on Jan. 7 at the New York Rangers after taking a high hit to the head.

MORE NOTES

The Avalanche recorded 40 or more shots on goal for the ninth time this season and the fifth time in its last nine outings. The Avs are averaging 33.1 shots per game, ranked eighth in the league.

Colorado scored twice in the first period. The Avs now have 54 first-period tallies, tops in the NHL and four more than the next closest team (Vancouver).

Nathan MacKinnon registered two assists, the 11th time this season he has notched two or more helpers in a game. He's now tied for sixth among all skaters (New York Rangers' Artemi Panarin) with 41 assists and moves into third in overall scoring with 68 points.

Ryan Graves finished with a plus-1 rating and now has a plus-30 on the season, tied with Carolina's Dougie Hamilton for the league lead.

Mikko Rantanen recorded a season-high six shots on goal, which also matched his career best (five previously, last: Feb. 20, 2019 vs. Winnipeg).

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