The Colorado Avalanche plays its third game of a four-game road swing Thursday night at the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team that currently sits atop the Atlantic Division and is one of just two teams in the league that hasn't lost this season.
The Avalanche enters the contest coming off a 3-0 defeat to the Washington Capitals, its first loss of the young season. In each of its three contests, the Avalanche has found itself trailing 2-0 early, something the team will look to rectify as it takes on a team that has advanced to the Eastern Conference Final each of the last two seasons.
"This is the third game in a row where we gave up goals early in the game and were trailing from behind," said defenseman Francois Beauchemin following Tuesday night's loss to the Capitals. "Eventually we'll have to make sure we're ready right off the bat to get a better start, get the first goal and play with a lead."
While Colorado was scoreless on three power-play chances in Tuesday night's game, it still ranks sixth in the NHL in the category, going 4-for-12 with the man advantage through three games. The penalty kill, however, is of some concern after the club finished perfect during the six-game preseason. The Avalanche allowed two goals on five Washington man-advantage opportunities Tuesday night and is now 8-for-14 on the penalty kill (57.1).
"We have to have some pride, and we have to be better at being in the right spots and blocking shots and making sure they don't get those big opportunities," said forward Andreas Martinsen, who has played big minutes on the Colorado PK, after Tuesday's contest. "I'm sure we're going to get there, but we weren't there today."
Video: Altitude TV previews Colorado at Tampa Bay
After playing its first back-to-back set of the season and third game in four days, the Avalanche had a day off in Florida on Wednesday, giving the team a little rest before taking on the Lightning Thursday night.
The Avalanche is 16-9-3-1 all time against Tampa Bay (since the 1995-96 season) and 6-6-1-1 on the road in the series. Colorado has had the upper hand in recent years, with a 4-2-1 record over the last five seasons. The teams split last year's two-game series with the Avalanche topping the Lightning 2-1 in Tampa and falling 4-0 at home.
With 10 points (five goals, five assists) in six career games against the Lightning, Nathan MacKinnon ranks first in Avalanche history (since the 1995-96 season) in points per game against Tampa Bay.
Puck drop for Thursday's game is at 5:30 p.m. MT at Amalie Arena. It will be televised live locally on Altitude and can be listened to on the radio at AM 950 in Denver.
"We'll talk about our response. How we're going to play after we win games and how we're going to play after we lose games. I think it's all about our response," said head coach Jared Bednar Tuesday night. "That was a bad night. Again, it was a tough turnaround for our guys. We'll give them a little slack there, but it's all about the response and what we do the next game."