The Avalanche probably can’t afford to lose any of their remaining five regular-season games in order to overtake Vegas for first place in the West Division, starting Friday at Staples Center in Los Angeles when they face the Kings in the first of a back-to-back set.
This is especially true after losing Wednesday in San Jose when they turned a 2-0 lead into a 3-2 loss.
Here are the GAME NOTES.
“That’s the culture around here, we want to bounce back,” J.T. Compher said
after an optional practice. “Were trying not to lose two in a row. Not the best effort last game, but we know what we have to do, be smart with the puck and try to make sure not to turn it over with their trap, get our feet going. Use our speed and confidence and we should be good.”
The Avalanche trail place Vegas by four points and their lead was cut to one point over third-place Minnesota on Wednesday when the Wild gained a point with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Golden Knights. The Avalanche have one game in hand on both.
Vegas is home to St. Louis on Friday while Minnesota hosts Anaheim.
Coach Jared Bednar
said some players are a little banged up and he had yet to decide on a lineup.
“Fighting for first is good for us, it’s important, we want the home ice, but at the same time we have to be healthy and rested for when the playoffs start,” he said. “That’s the No. 1 priority for our team. We feel we have the depth that can help us right now.
“If we have to pull someone out of the lineup, we got a lot of healthy bodies here and guys that are hungry and champing at the bit to get into the lineup. If we need to use them, we will.”
Bednar said he expects the Avalanche to do a better job of checking than they did against the Sharks, putting the onus on the forwards – including the top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon
and Mikko Rantanen
They’ve been carrying the offensive load for some time, but he said they’ve also started to take too many chances, neglecting the checking and defensive duties.
“Checking kind of slipped on us last game,” Bednar said. “Part of it is getting back on rush coverage and getting back above pucks by our forwards, checking with our eyes a little bit and not using our legs. They didn’t make it hard enough on (the Sharks) at certain times, didn’t managed the puck great. Cleaning up those two areas for me are real important.”
Goalie Justus Annunen
has joined the Colorado Eagles after completing his season with Karpat in Finland.
The 6-foot-3, 207-pound Annunen, 21, was a third-round pick (No. 64) in the 2018 NHL draft.
Annunen, who is from Kempele, Finland, went 7-9-7 with a 2.43 goals-against average and .884 save percentage for Karpat in the SM-Liiga League. He went 15-5-3 last season with a 1.77 GAA and .929 save percentage.
Here's the lineup the Avalanche used Wednesday:
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen
Nazem Kadri – Alex Newhook – Andre Burakovsky
Valeri Nichushkin - Tyson Jost – Joonas Donskoi
Carl Soderberg - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – J.T. Compher
Devon Toews – Cale Makar
Ryan Graves - Conor Timmins
Patrik Nemeth – Jacob MacDonald