It only took one tally for the Arizona Coyotes to beat the visiting Colorado Avalanche at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, on Monday night.
The Coyotes managed to muster the lone marker on netminder Calvin Pickard, who was perfect otherwise, and Colorado couldn't manage to do the same with Arizona keeper Mike Smith and fell 1-0.
Ultimately, it was the Pickard show in the desert. The 24-year-old denied 34 shots and was prepared for all 57 attempts sent his direction. The trouble was that the visiting squad couldn't make the most of its chances and one perfectly placed shot got through their goalie.
"I thought both goalies were good, but we missed the net on too many of our good chances," head coach Jared Bednar said after the loss. "Especially in the first period, I felt like all of our best chances we missed on, and then when we got some good chances and good looks as the game went on, I thought Smith was good in goal. Pick was really good for us, too. I liked our first period a lot.
"In the second period, we started turning the puck over and feeding into their speed, and they create some chances and kept us in our zone a little bit. Pretty even third. We kind of got back on track there and created some chances, but that's when we ran into Smith in net. Pick was equal to the task, they just got their one. They capitalized on that once chance."
Video: COL@ARI: Pickard goes full extension to rob Rieder
For Pickard, warming up to the feel of the puck took longer than usual as Arizona only managed five shots on target in the opening frame.
"It was kind of a tough game to get into," he confessed. "There wasn't a whole lot happening in the first period, and then they scored that early second-period goal and you definitely have to limit your mistakes after that. You don't want to go down 2-0. They came with the push, and yeah, it was a good game. I really liked it. Unfortunately, we couldn't get the win."
Neither team capitalized while on the man advantage, which was both a blessing and a curse for a Colorado club that went 0-for-3 with the extra man.
"We got that four-minute power play; I thought we had some good looks and some close calls. Hit a couple posts in the first, could have been a different outcome if one of those goes in, but they didn't. We got a couple good kills tonight, and whenever we're keeping the puck out of the net on the penalty kill, it's a good night, for sure," Pickard said. "They had a lot of jump tonight. They had some good performances throughout their lineup. [Max] Domi had quite a few chances. They have some good, young talent and some good speed. It was definitely on display tonight."
The middle stanza is where the game changed in favor of the Coyotes, who fired 19 shots to the Avalanche's seven and came away with the goal and the momentum.
Video: Condensed Game: Avalanche @ Coyotes
"I thought we had a good first, a lot of chances, a couple posts, a lot of missed opportunities. We didn't have a great second. Storyline of our seconds lately, and tonight was another one," Nathan MacKinnon said. "We're just trying to pick corners and it gets away from us. At least we're getting chances, I guess. So we'll build off that."
For Bednar, the skewed shot total was less of an issue than the lack of quality scoring chances and overall productive results.
"I thought we passed up on some shots, as well, but I think we had 24 misses--12 in the first period. It's too many," Bednar said. "They do a pretty good job in the lanes. They got some 'D' that come out in the lanes, but some of the looks we had--just clipping through them in intermissions and stuff--we just missed our opportunities. It's a tough one because I thought we were doing some good things offensively tonight, especially we had a good shot mentality for the most part, but you got to find a way to capitalize on some of those opportunities.
"We just got to stick with it. I liked our energy and our passion tonight. We were fighting right until the end. We had a good look, even with the empty net--MacKinnon on the backdoor. We were doing some good things, but it just takes capitalizing on one of those chances in the first period and then you start gaining a little confidence, and that goes a long way for our group, especially at this point."
The overall game wasn't the issue, as the Avs pushed right back in the third period and had their own moments where the equalizer seemed within reach. The puck just couldn't get through Smith.
"On some nights I feel that we're in our own heads a little bit. Tonight, I felt like we were loose and and energized. To fall behind doesn't help you," Bednar said. "Again, that kind of comes down to some of those chances we missed in the first period, but they have to find a way to be relaxed. We got 14 games left. We know where we are in the standings, so to go out and have fun and be energized and play with a little passion--like we did tonight--I think is what we're looking for. You got to be loose and you got to try and enjoy the moment and just play in the moment, not worry about the whole season."
"It's tough. We had a good push there at the end," said Pickard. "Their goalie made a couple good stops, but it was right there for us. You got to give them credit as well. They played a great game."
The Colorado Avalanche announced on Monday afternoon that prospective defenseman Anton Lindholm had been recalled from the team's American Hockey League affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage.
The Skellefteå, Sweden, native will be joining the club at practice on Tuesday. If he makes his NHL debut, he would join A.J. Greer, J.T. Compher, Jeremy Smith, Samuel Henley and Spencer Martin as NHL newcomers that skated in their first games with the Avs this year.
Lindholm is Colorado's 18th reassignment of the 2016-17 campaign, and he joins former Rampage players Compher, Goloubef, Rantanen and Smith--all of whom are still with the squad after being recalled.
The 5-foot-11, 192-pound 22-year-old has skated in 59 games with San Antonio this year, putting up 12 points (two goals and 10 assists) in his first professional season in North America.