The Avalanche weren’t looking for a split Monday, but it’s what they got with a 3-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights at Ball Arena in the finale of their four-game mini-series.
They generated more than enough chances against goalie Marc-Andre Fleury
, who made more than a few exceptional saves to earn his second shutout against the Avalanche in little over a week, his third of the season and 64th of his career, tying him with Henrik Lundqvist
for 16th in NHL history.
Here’s my NHL.com GAME RECAP.
Coach Jared Bednar
was more concerned with his team’s turnover-prone offense and sloppy defensive play.
“I give them credit,” he said of Vegas. “They came out, they played hard, they challenged us on the defensive side. I would guess that was the most chances they had against us out of the four games we played. I did not love us defensively. They won the bulk of the races and the bulk of the battles. We looked sluggish, we didn’t have our jump, our legs. We lacked energy for the better part of the game.”
Well, the Reverse Retro unis looked sharp
Vegas scored all three goals in the second period, two by Alex Tuch
and the third by Jonathan Marchessault
, who beat Philipp Grubauer
through the 5-hole, the one goal he probably should have stopped.
Tuch scored on a power play when he split the defense, breezed down the middle and skated in alone on Grubauer. His second goal came after he moved past Cale Makar
, put a shot on goal that Grubauer stopped and watched the rebound ricochet off Bowen Byram’s
right skate into the net.
“We made some mistakes, especially me personally, and we definitely have to tighten up in the ‘D’ zone a little bit,” Makar said.
The Avalanche outshot Vegas 15-6 in the third period but couldn’t put one behind Fleury, who at age 36 is playing like a youngster; he has a 1.55 goals-against average and .942 save percentage.
The loss ended the Avalanche’s home winning streak at five games; Saturday’s outdoor game at Lake Tahoe was considered a home game.
Grubauer, who had 25 saves, allowed seven goals in his previous six starts, the only loss in that stretch a 1-0 decision to Fleury’s Golden Knights on Feb. 14. He’s started 13 of the first 16 games as Pavel Francouz
recovers from a lower-body injury that apparently isn’t close to healing.
An already compacted 56-game schedule is even tighter now with 21 games in the next 38 days because five games were postponed because of COVID-19 protocol. It's why the Avalanche were off Tuesday and won't have much time to practice for a while.
One of those games will be made up Wednesday, which would have been an off day, when the Minnesota Wild visit town.