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Penalties Kill Colorado's Momentum

Colorado can't capitalize on chances in Buffalo

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

BUFFALO, N.Y.--The Colorado Avalanche had the start it wanted against the Buffalo Sabres, but penalties once again were killer for the club.

Colorado had five shots in the first 2:11 on Thursday night at KeyBank Center, but back-to-back fouls zapped the team's momentum and Buffalo controlled the rest of the period. The Avs took another infraction late in the first period, and Sam Reinhart struck on the power play early in the second to give the Sabres the only lead they would need.

The Avalanche didn't take another penalty for the rest of the game, but the damage had already been done as it ended up being shutout 2-0 after Evander Kane sealed the game with another tally with 4:14 left to play.

"We came out and had a great first couple shifts," said Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog. "We get a couple penalties called against us. They're the first power play in the league for a reason, and you see that. They're extremely hard to stop and they move it around, and you give them enough chances, they're eventually going to score."

Buffalo actually entered the game second in the NHL on the power play with a 23.1 percent success rate and got energy from its two early man advantages as it outshot Colorado 10-2 in the final 17 minutes of the period.

"We take two unnecessary, needless penalties up ice when guys are outstaying us and we're reaching," said head coach Jared Bednar. "Those power plays gave them momentum, and they shoot the puck and their power play is dangerous at home."

The Sabres controlled play in the middle frame but were only up 1-0 at the intermission. The Avalanche had a much better third period and had chances to tie the contest.

"It was a one-goal hockey game," Landeskog said. "We just wanted to push and make plays and be desperate, and I think we did. We ended up falling short."

Video: Gabe Landeskog after the game in Buffalo

Calvin Pickard was solid in goal for Colorado as he finished with 30 saves. He was fantastic in the third and kept it a one-score contest with 11:10 left, making diving stop on a 2-on-1 rush to deny Reinhart a second goal.

He also came up big on the power plays, stopping five shots. Only Reinhart's tally off a rebound 48 seconds into the middle frame got past him while Colorado was a man down.

"He's a big reason why we had the power-play stops in the first period," Bednar said.

The Avs have played plenty of close contests this season, but they've rarely had success pulling away with the lead or coming back from a deficit in the third.

They have only won twice this season when trailing entering the third period.

"There's been a lot of games where we've been tied or leading going into the third and we get scored on and we kind of get deflated," Pickard said. "It's tough. You never want to lose a tight game like that, but give them credit. They played a good game, and it's another loss for us."

The Avalanche has one more chance to get a win on this road trip as it concludes its journey out east on Friday at the Carolina Hurricanes.

RUSSIANS RETURN

Defenseman Nikita Zadorov is in his second season with the Avalanche, but Thursday marked his first trip back to Buffalo, the team with which he began his NHL career.

Zadorov was with Colorado's American Hockey League affiliate in San Antonio when the squad made its only visit to the city on the shores of Lake Erie on Valentine's Day 2016, missing out on the chance to play at the now-named KeyBank Center. He finally got the opportunity this season.

"It's nice. I spent some time here," said Zadorov prior to the game. "I have some friends in here, and it's always nice to come back and play some hockey games in here."

Zadorov joined the Avalanche in an offseason trade with the Sabres in 2015 that also sent forward Mikhail Grigorenko to Colorado. Grigorenko was selected 12th overall in the 2012 draft, while Zadorov was picked 16th in 2013.

Grigorenko was making his second appearance in Buffalo as he was with the Avs when they visited the city last year.

FINAL STOP DOWN SOUTH

After spending the first four games and seven days of this season-long road trip in the state of New York or within a stone's throw of New York City, the Avalanche will finish off the trek in Raleigh, North Carolina, against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.

It is the first matchup of the season for the Avs and Canes as the clubs will meet for the second and final time this year in Denver on March 7.

Colorado has yet to win on the trip, so a victory against the upstart Hurricanes would be nice for the club as it starts a two-contest homestand next week.

"We haven't had a point on this whole road trip, and it's been a week," Pickard said. "So we got to find a way to get a win."

Friday's outing will mark the eighth of 11 back-to-back sets the Avalanche will play this season, and the second on this trip.

Video: Coach Bednar's postgame news conference

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