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Slow Starts Hurt Avs Against Rangers

Colorado begins the road trip will a loss at MSG

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

NEW YORK--In today's NHL, you can't give hungry teams much hope for a comeback effort.

That was the issue for the Colorado Avalanche as it had a slow start and a bad third period Saturday night in a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

The Avs couldn't hold onto a 2-1 advantage entering the final frame as the Rangers came out hard and scored twice in the first 5:36 to regain the lead and then tallied an empty-net marker late to seal the victory.

"Obviously, we knew that they were going to press and that they were going to come hard," said Gabriel Landeskog. "They're an offensively-skilled team, and you give those guys chances, obviously they're going to score. Just a couple breakdowns that end up in the back of our net. It's disappointing."

Colorado couldn't generate much early in the first period, only getting two shots in the opening 10 minutes, but ended the stanza tied 1-1 after Landeskog found the back of the cage with 16 seconds left before the intermission.

"The first part of the game, we kind of let them bring the game to us, and it was kind of a wakeup call," said Avs forward Matt Nieto. "It's a tough building to play in. I thought once we started playing and moving our legs, we did a good job."

Video: Captain Gabe Landeskog after the loss in New York

The second period was the Avalanche's best and most complete of the contest. It outshot the Rangers 12-9 and took the lead on John Mitchell's second goal of the season early in the frame.

But Colorado couldn't sustain that effort against a New York squad that came out firing to begin the final stanza and scored on two of its first three shots of the period.

"For whatever reason, we just kind of get on our heels in that third period, and that just can't happen," Landeskog said.

One thing that can be said about the Avalanche is it didn't give up in the closing minutes as it had its own push to try and knot the contest up once again. The club had several good chances but couldn't get the equalizer.

"Listen, I know our record overall is not good. It's horrible, but at the end of the day you look at the way we just played over our three-game homestand, and we were a dangerous team," head coach Jared Bednar said. "We can be loose. We have nothing to lose. We can be confident from what we just did recently, and I just wanted us to lay it on the line and let the chips fall where they may at the end of the game. You just make a push instead of rolling over. I wanted to make sure that we were digging in. I would have liked to see it for a full 60 minutes, but at that point there was only eight minutes left, and I thought that's exactly what we did."

Video: Postgame interview with Matt Nieto

Colorado's season-long five-game trip continues Sunday as the team crosses the East River and heads to Brooklyn to take on the New York Islanders in a 4 p.m. MT start.

A more complete effort will be needed for the Avalanche if the team wants to pick up its second win of the season against the Islanders.

"We know how we're capable of playing," Nieto said. "We've been playing some good hockey on that tail end of the home stretch. So it's up to us to come tomorrow ready to play and have everyone competing for 60 minutes."

It will be Colorado's second-ever time playing at Barclays Center, the new home of the Islanders. The Avs lost 5-3 on Nov. 30, 2015 in their only other outing at the arena.


Captain Gabriel Landeskog scored for the second-straight contest and extended his point streak to four games on Saturday.

Landeskog took a pass from Nathan MacKinnon at the top of the left circle with 16 seconds remaining in the first period and fired a one-time shot past Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist, a teammate of his from the Swedish National Team, for his 11th tally of the season.

The Stockholm native now has two goals and three assists during his season-long streak.

"I guess it feels good to produce, but it doesn't matter if you don't win," Landeskog said. "I still feel like I can play better, and as a line, as a team we need to be better."

Picking up points at Madison Square Garden has become a common trend for the forward, as he now has three goals and an assist in five career contests at the home of the Rangers.

Landeskog is also close to a milestone, as he is just two games shy of playing his 400th in the NHL.

MacKinnon also extended his point streak to four games with the helper. He has a goal and four assists in that time.


Defenseman Tyson Barrie didn't play once again because of a lower-body injury, but he could return to game action on Sunday when the Avalanche concludes its New York City back-to-back set versus the Islanders.

"He's probable for tomorrow. He's still working to get back here in the lineup," Bednar said of Barrie after the contest. "He skated again today, and he worked out again today. I think that if we get the OK for him in the morning, he should be in the lineup tomorrow night."

Barrie did take warmup with the team prior to the Avalanche's game at the New York Rangers but was already ruled out for his fourth-straight outing no matter how he felt following the 16-minute skate. 

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