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Late Breakdown Costs Avalanche

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy was satisfied with how his team played for most of Sunday's game against the San Jose Sharks, but a late mistake and a couple bounces that didn't go his team's way ended up being the difference.

Brent Burns scored on a breakdown in the Avalanche's defensive-zone coverage with 1:39 remaining to give the Sharks a late lead, and the Avs fell 4-3 in a matinee at Pepsi Center. Burns and Patrick Marleau, who registered the primary assist on the tally, both found ways to get open and connect for the score.

Colorado did make things interesting in the end as Cody McLeod tallied with 1:04 left, but that still only got the Avs to within one goal as the Sharks' Joe Pavelski had scored into an empty net 15 seconds earlier.

"We don't have the result to support what we are doing, and that's all that is missing right now," Roy said after the game. "We played a great game. For 57 minutes, we were very solid. They took advantage of a bad line change, bad positioning in our D-zone and they scored that one goal. Both teams played hard. Both teams played well.

"It's just a frustrating situation right now. We're doing a lot of good things right now, but we just can't get rewarded for it. It's hard because I thought our guys gave everything they had this afternoon."

The players echoed Roy's sentiment that it was a good game overall, but the late breakdown cost the club.

"At the end of the day, we don't come away with any points and that is what matters," said captain Gabriel Landeskog. "It's a business of winning, and you have to win or else you're not doing your job. I think tonight we played a solid game for 56 minutes and then just kind of a mental breakdown. I think even leading up to that, we started inviting them back in the game, started giving them pucks in the neutral zone."

"Giving up that goal, it is stupid on our part and we know better," McLeod said. "We played a solid game for 57 minutes so it's frustrating."

Colorado had plenty of chances in the third period and even earlier in the contest to take the lead or pull away from San Jose, but it looked like it was one of those games where the Hockey Gods wouldn't allow it as the puck seemed to be jumping over Avs sticks when they had open spaces to shoot at.

"It's amazing how many pucks we were missing in front of the net, bouncing," Roy said. "It's not bouncing in our favor right now, unfortunately for us. I really felt we played hard, and we played well today and deserved a lot better than what we got."

So how do the Avs get over the hump and start pulling out wins in one-goal games?

According to Roy, they need to avoid making mistakes at the worst times.

"You're playing a close game, every mental mistake can cost you, and tonight that's what happened," Roy said. "You can't make a mistake. It is the time of the game where you got to be perfect, decisions have to be better.

"We addressed it. We showed them, and eventually it will kick in."

The Avs have a chance break through on Tuesday night as the Calgary Flames come to Denver. Like Colorado, Calgary is also off to a tough start with a 3-8-1 record to begin the year.

POWER UP

The Avs broke their power-play drought on Sunday with goals from Jarome Iginla in the first period and Francois Beauchemin in the second.

Colorado finished 2-for-4 with the man advantage, which is a great improvement from the 0-for-14 mark it had during its recent three-game road trip.

"We've struggled lately to score goals on the power play," said Beauchemin, whose tally was his first in an Avalanche uniform. "Finally, we did some good things today."

Iginla's extra-man marker was the 180th of his career, which puts him past Mark Messier (179) for sole possession of 26th place on the NHL's all-time power-play goals list.

It was the third time this season that Colorado had scored twice on the power play (Oct. 8 versus Minnesota and Oct. 10 versus Dallas).

SODERBERG REACHES 100

Forward Carl Soderberg recorded his 100th career NHL point with an assist on Jarome Iginla's power-play goal in the first period.

Soderberg has 30 goals and 70 assists in 172 NHL games with the Avalanche and the Boston Bruins. He has a goal and five assists through 11 contests this season, his first in Colorado.

The 30-year-old played 10 professional seasons in Sweden before coming to North America during the 2012-13 campaign with the Bruins.

CHANGES ON THE BACK END

Defensemen Nate Guenin and Brad Stuart returned to the Colorado lineup Sunday, replacing fellow blueliners Brandon Gormley and Nikita Zadorov.

Guenin was a healthy scratch in the Avalanche's last game on Friday at Carolina while Stuart had missed the previous five contests with a minor back injury. The duo made up the Avs' third D-pairing.

For Zadorov, it was the first time this season that he was on the club's scratch list. Gormley had played in three of Colorado's last five games.

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