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Postgame Wrap-Up: Missed Opportunities vs. Nashville

Avalanche couldn't convert on its chances in loss to the Predators

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

When the Colorado Avalanche looks back at its game against the Nashville Predators on Monday afternoon, the team will see plenty of good things that it did but also too many missed opportunities that could have changed the final outcome.

The Predators defeated the Avalanche 4-1 at Pepsi Center after they tallied three times in the second period and received a 35-save performance from goalie Pekka Rinne.

"I thought we battled hard. It was a playoff atmosphere out there, and we have to find ways to get goals," said Colorado forward Matt Nieto. "Just a couple breakdowns here and there cost us. In this league when you make mistakes, you'll pay for them."

The Avs outshot the Predators each period and finished with a 36-27 edge in the category, but they were only able to get one puck past Rinne.

"The difference in the hockey game tonight was their goalie. It's that simple. I have no problem with the way we played today," said Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar. "We made a couple mistakes, they capitalized. They made lots of mistakes too, we didn't capitalize. To me, the difference was Rinne."

Colorado seemed to have the start it wanted, as it had a 13-7 advantage in shots on goal and had 12 more total attempts (25-13) in the first period. The Avs also won 11-of-17 faceoffs, out-hit the Preds 14-8 and had two power-play chances in the opening frame.

Despite that, the score remained tied at 0-0 heading into the intermission.

"The first period might have been one of our best first periods of the year," Bednar said. "I thought we were getting under their skin, giving them no room to move. It was a little a bit of a continuation of what we did against L.A., against a team that is a top team in the league. I thought we frustrated them. "

The Avalanche had another prime opportunity to score first early in the second period but couldn't convert. Nieto was awarded a penalty shot after being slashed on a shorthanded breakaway, but Rinne made a pad save on the forward's ensuing one-on-one shot.

"It is just another chance that we didn't score on," Bednar said of the penalty shot. "I didn't feel it was a big turning point to the game. It would have been if we would have scored on it, but we didn't capitalize on it so we just kept trying to go about our business and work for the next chance. That was the message."

Just 91 seconds after Nieto's opportunity, Nashville broke through as Nick Bonino scored following an Avs turnover in the defensive zone. The Predators then made it 2-0 on a wraparound marker by Viktor Arvidsson 1:34 later.

The Avs stuck to their game and continued to create chances before finally beating Rinne on an Alexander Kerfoot redirection with 3:17 left in the middle frame. However, the Preds extended their lead back to two goals on a rush before the second break.

Nashville sealed the game with an empty-net tally with less than three minutes to play.

"It was a well-played hockey game by our team," Bednar said. "We just have to stick with it and find a way to bury one chance here or there. Clean up a mistake here or there, you would get a different outcome."

Despite the loss, the Avalanche can take some positives from its recent play that it can build on heading into Wednesday's game against the Minnesota Wild. That contest will be the last outing for the club before the NHL All-Star Break and its league-mandated bye week.

"It was a good game. It was a fun hockey game," said Avs forward Colin Wilson. "Obviously, we would have liked to be on the other side of it, but man did we play for each other and played hard. Just keep with that attitude.

"I liked our effort, we just have to find a way to score more goals."

MONDAY MATINEE: The Avalanche played a weekday afternoon game at home for only the third time (since 1995-96), and the contest marked the second straight season that the team played at Pepsi Center during the day on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Colorado defeated the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 on MLK Day last season. The Avs' first home afternoon affair during the weekday came on Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, when they beat the Predators 6-5 on Presidents Day.

It was also the second of two straight day game that Colorado played, as it hosted the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. The Avalanche will play four more afternoon contests at Pepsi Center this season and will play a total of 13 outings starting at 5 p.m. local time or earlier in 2018-19.

DEFENSIVE ALIGNMENT: Erik Johnson missed his first game of the season as he recovers from a concussion sustained in the Avs' game on Saturday versus the Los Angeles Kings. With Johnson out, Colorado made changes to all three of its defensive pairings for the affair against the Predators.

Ian Cole took Johnson's spot on a pairing with Samuel Girard, while Cole's previous partner, Tyson Barrie, skated with Nikita Zadorov.

Mark Barberio returned to the Avalanche's lineup after being a healthy scratch in the last outing. He was paired with Patrik Nemeth, who skated in his second straight contest after missing three games with an illness.

MORE NOTES: The Avalanche is now 4-1-1 at home on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and 7-4-1 overall on MLK Day. Colorado is 1-1-0 in afternoon contests at Pepsi Center in 2018-19.

Matt Nieto's penalty shot was the Avs' first penalty shot since Nov. 16, 2017 (Gabriel Landeskog vs. Washington, goal). It was Nieto's third career NHL penalty-shot attempt (0-for-3).

Alexander Kerfoot now has goals in consecutive games for the second time this season (also: Nov. 11-14, 2018).

Carl Soderberg had a season-high six shots. Mark Barberio's four shots were a season best for him as well.

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