A win against Winnipeg on Sunday night might have been enough for most to forget about the injury right winger PA Parenteau sustained late in the second period at Pepsi Center.
The Avalanche didn’t win, though—Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler pushed the puck across the goal line with 1.5 seconds left in overtime for a 2-1 victory—so Parenteau’s knee injury came into sharp focus in the postgame, and it puts in jeopardy an 86-for-86 games played streak he’s authored since signing with the Avalanche in July 2012.
The Jets’ late score was deflating for the Avalanche in the short term. Parenteau’s injury might have more lasting ramifications.
“Right now it’s hard to say,” Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said when asked about the severity of Parenteau’s injury. “We’ll have more idea tomorrow. He’s going to have an MRI tomorrow, then we’ll know better on what exactly it is.”
The Avs are having a terrific season—they’re 23-11-4, which is the fourth best record after 38 games in franchise history—but there was a sense all Sunday among the Colorado players that this game was a big one. It was the first of a seven-game homestand for the Avalanche, and all those wearing the burgundy and blue wanted to wash away any memories from last week’s frustrating game in Chicago.
Instead, they now might have something else to add to their motivation chart for Tuesday’s New Year’s Eve home game against Columbus.
And Colorado might be short-handed.
Parenteau’s skate got locked up near center ice with Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba at 3:40 of the second period, and he immediately crumpled to the ice and, once play was stopped, was helped into the training room by Avalanche head athletic trainer Matt Sokolowski.
An early third-period press box announcement confirmed Parenteau’s absence for the rest of the game.
The change actually benefitted Colorado a bit in the third period, as MacKinnon tied the game at 1-1 at 12:11 when his ninth goal of the season got past Winnipeg goaltender Al Montoya after the most fortuitous of fortuitous bounces.
It came off a redirect off the foot of Jets defenseman Zach Bogosian and just 29 seconds after the Jets took their 1-0 lead. It flew past Montoya, and Pepsi Center came alive.
“I don’t if a goal like that will ever go in in hockey again,” MacKinnon said. “They all count the same, which is nice. It doesn’t really matter how you score—I think it was important for our team to get back in it, and luckily it went in.”
Goaltender Semyon Varlamov was outstanding for the Avalanche, with 35 saves made, and he claimed the game’s ceremonious First Star distinction, but he might in his sleep Sunday night see Wheeler’s deflected shot slowly gliding across the goal line just before the overtime buzzer blared.
“We got one point—that’s a positive thing,” Varlamov said. “I think we played a good game today. We had so many chances to score, and we just didn’t score, but I think offensively we played very well; created so many chances in front of the net. [We] just didn’t score.”
Added MacKinnon: “We’ve got to do a better job of winning those games, especially when ‘Varly’ plays that well for us. He’s definitely been probably our best player all year, and we’ve got to start helping him a little more, especially with [1.5 seconds] left. We’ve got to hang on there.”
- The Avalanche on Sunday night completed a stretch of 19 games against teams from the NHL’s Western Conference.
Colorado went 9-6-4 and earned 22 points in the stretch, which started with a resounding 5-1 win against Chicago at home Nov. 19. The Western Conference has been considered by most the stronger of the league’s two divisions this year.
“It was a tough stretch and an important one,” Roy said. “I thought we did a good job. We picked up 22 points, [and played] close to .600 (winning percentage). In our conference where there are are tough games, tough road games, our players certainly deserve [the credit].”
- The Avs donned their blue third jerseys for the fifth of 12 scheduled games this season. With the loss Colorado fell to 3-0-2 in the blues in 2013.
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