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Postgame Wrap-Up: Another Comeback, Another One Point Gained

Avalanche wants more than one point in overtime loss to Kings

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

For the second consecutive outing, the Colorado Avalanche rallied from a multi-goal deficit to tie the game and force overtime.

However, just like in Saturday's contest against the Chicago Blackhawks, earning one point in the standings still isn't enough for the Avs.

Colorado fell 3-2 to the Los Angeles Kings on Monday at Pepsi Center after Dustin Brown scored the game-winner 54 seconds into the extra stanza.

"We did a great job of coming back in the third," said Erik Johnson. "It's kind of been our Achilles heel as of late: in overtime, we can't find a way to get the second point… It's frustrating not getting that second point, but we battled our butts off in the third to tie it up."

After a fairly quiet first two periods that saw both teams combine for only 29 shots, the Avalanche seemed to get back to its game in the third frame. Colorado outshot L.A. 8-4 and got goals from Nathan MacKinnon 32 seconds into the stanza and from Carl Soderberg with 1:50 left in regulation.

The Avs are proud of their resilient effort, again fighting back to force overtime and gain a still important point in the standings, but the players and head coach Jared Bednar agree that it needs to start being two points instead.

"I think we played pretty good in the third period," Soderberg said. "It's hard to chase. You're down two goals, you come back strong, but we really need to find ways to win hockey games now. We're trying. We're trying hard, and I think it is just a matter of time before we break through."

Bednar said the club's overtime struggles are from the mental side of the game.

"You can't let guys get in behind you in overtime, you just can't," Bednar said. "You can't make the change if a guy is standing there. For me, that is not structural, that is mental, mental mistakes. To be honest with you, most of our overtime losses have been the exact same way."

In order to have success during the wide-open play of 3-on-3, Bednar noted that the team needs to defend first before thinking about offense when it doesn't have possession of the puck.

"There is nowhere to hide. You make a mistake or you let someone get in behind you, chances are they are going to score," Bednar said. "You can't poach passes, you can't hope for offense. If you want offense, go steal the puck from someone, outwork them and then go to work at the other end."

Johnson said there is still belief that the Avalanche can win on any given night, but it's time for the squad to start proving it with its play.

"We got the guys in here to do it," said Johnson. "Everyone cares. Everyone cares about the logo and playing for each other and the fans. It's a group that cares deeply about the team and the organization… There comes a point where there is a breaking point, and I think for us it's time to wake up. It's time to take care of some of these wins."

Colorado has two more contests on its homestand to do it before beginning a long, five-game Canadian road trip.

O'CONNOR DEBUTS: Logan O'Connor closed out a hectic 2018 by playing in the NHL.

O'Connor made his debut in the league Monday night with the Avalanche after being recalled from the Colorado Eagles of the American Hockey League the previous day. He began the outing on an even-strength line with Gabriel Bourque and Sheldon Dries and also saw time on the penalty kill as well.

The Calgary, Alberta, native began the calendar year playing college hockey with the University of Denver before earning an NHL contract with the Avs after his performance at the team's development camp. He began the 2018-19 campaign with the Eagles and was third on the squad in scoring with 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in 30 contests at the time of his call-up.

O'Connor is the seventh DU alum to play for the Avalanche, joining Antti Laaksonen (2005-2007), Mark Rycroft (2006-07), Paul Stastny (2006-2014), Aaron MacKenzie (2008-09), Joe Colborne (2016-17) and Patrick Wiercioch (2016-17).

He is the fourth Avs player this season to make his NHL debut, joining Sheldon Dries (Oct. 4), Pavel Francouz (Dec. 22) and Ryan Graves (Dec. 27).

OFFENSIVE 2018: Only one player in the league helped generate more goals in the 2018 calendar year than the Avs' duo of Mikko Rantanan and Nathan MacKinnon.

Rantanen had 113 points (34 goals and 79 assists) in 83 games since the start of last January, while MacKinnon had 110 points (47 goals and 63 assists) in 76 contests. Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers paced the NHL with 121 points (48 goals and 73 assists) in 81 games played.

MacKinnon's 47 goals ranked fourth-best, and his 1.45 points per game were second to only McDavid's 1.49. Rantanen was third at 1.36 points per game and finished with 79 total assists, the most in the past 12 months.

NYE NUMBERS: The Avalanche is now 4-2-2 at home on New Year's Eve following its OT loss to the Kings.

It was the sixth straight season that Colorado hosted a game on Dec. 31. The Avs have played 16 times on the final day of the calendar year since moving to Denver in 1995, going 8-5-3 in those matchups.

Prior to the franchise relocating, the Quebec Nordiques went 3-5-1 in nine such outings on New Year's Eve.

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