The Colorado Avalanche could not generate enough quality chances and the Dallas Stars took advantage of mistakes as the Avs fell 4-0 at American Airlines Center on Thursday.
"We fought hard, tight-checking game, but we made a couple mistakes. They capitalized on them. D-zone coverage breakdown in the first period, had the turnover coming out of our zone in the second, it wasn't a great goal," said Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar. "They checked hard, they are a stingy defensive team. They got good speed, long sticks, I just felt like we passed up on some opportunities.
"I think we didn't shoot the puck enough with opportunity. I think when you are playing a team that is checking real hard like that, if you get to the interior of the ice you got to put pucks to the net, and I feel like we passed up on some opportunities."
Colorado had five of the first seven shots on goal in the contest, but the Stars found the back of the net first with 3:46 remaining in the opening frame and added their second of the game halfway through the middle period.
The Avalanche had a 23-21 edge in shots on goal despite trailing 2-0 at the second intermission and finished with a 63-50 advantage in shot attempts for the contest.
However in the third frame, Colorado couldn't continue creating more chances than Dallas. The Stars scored twice in the third--one into an open net--and recorded 12 shots to the Avs' eight in the stanza.
"I think we just got behind, and they obviously tried to lock it up on us," said defenseman Tyson Barrie. "We didn't get too many chances in the third period there, which was a bit disappointing, and their goalie played well but we just got to be better than that. I think they kind of controlled the game from start to finish, and its disappointing for us."
With 14 games remaining in the 2018-19 regular season, the Avs have 70 points and are now five points behind the Stars, who are currently in the first wild-card position in the Western Conference with 75 points.
Between the Central Division foes are the Minnesota Wild in the second spot with 74 points and the Arizona Coyotes with 71 points.
Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar after the game in Dallas
"It's playoff hockey. They are playing a playoff game trying to put us out of the race, and we are playing a playoff game trying to stay in the race," Bednar said. "Tonight is a rough night because they win and I think Minny won, and it puts us behind the eight ball a little bit. There is some good hockey yet to be played, but these are the type of nights where we are going to have to step up and elevate our game and right now we are just not finding a way to do that.
"We have to reset and now we really have nothing to lose. We have to bounce back better, and we will have a couple opportunities like this against some teams that we are still trying to catch and we are going to have to win those games. All 14 games are important but there are a handful that you can circle on the calendar that you are going to have to win to get in."
Colorado is now 2-1-0 against the Stars this season and the clubs have one game remaining in their 2018-19 series: March 21 in Dallas. The Avalanche also faces Minnesota on March 19 and Arizona on March 29.
HOME FOR FOUR: Colorado now returns home for four games, beginning with a matinee matchup with the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. The Avs will also host the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday and the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.
The home stay concludes on March 17 versus the New Jersey Devils in the Avalanche's final game of the year against an Eastern Conference opponent. Of Colorado's remaining 14 contests, nine will take place at Pepsi Center.
"End of the year now, you play every other day," said Avs forward Mikko Rantanen. "Not much time to think about it too much. Go to the rink tomorrow and learn from this game and go back at it. There is only 14 games left now, so it is still in our own hands, we just have to move forward."
Video: Postgame interview with Mikko Rantanen
NO UPDATE ON LANDY: Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog left the game midway through the third period after receiving a hit from Dallas goaltender Ben Bishop along the end wall.
Bednar did not have an update on him after the game.
"I don't know yet, it didn't look great with him going off the ice but I haven't talked with the trainers. We will know more tomorrow after he gets evaluated," Bednar said of Landeskog.
Landeskog has played in all 68 of Colorado's outings this season and has recorded a career-high 33 goals, 69 points, nine game-winning tallies and 10 power-play markers.
VARLY AND GRUBI IN GOAL: Goaltender Semyon Varlamov had to leave the game after his blade broke off of his skate during the third period.
Philipp Grubauer came in for the Russian netminder while Varlamov was fixing his equipment in the locker room and stopped all three shots he faced in 4:59 of ice time. Varlamov came back in to finish the game and recorded 26 saves in the contest.
Video: COL@DAL: Varlamov loses skate blade while making save
INDIVIDUAL NOTES: Erik Johnson skated in his 500th game with Colorado, becoming the third blueliner in Avalanche history (since 1995-96) to appear in 500 games, joining Adam Foote (760) and John-Michael Liles (523).
Mikko Rantanen matched a season high with three blocked shots (also on Oct. 22 at Philadelphia).