Avs Get Chances But Still Lose First Road Game
Colorado outshot Carolina 29-17 in the final two periods on Tuesday night
The Avalanche was the last team standing in the NHL when it came to not losing on the road.
Unfortunately for Colorado, "was" usually doesn't precede many good things.
The Avs lost 2-1 at Carolina on Tuesday night, becoming the last team in the league to lose a road game. Colorado is now 6-1-0 on the road and 14-3-0 overall this season.
With a win, the Avalanche would have matched its franchise record for the longest road winning streak at any point of the season (seven games, Jan. 10 to Feb. 7, 1999).
Colorado's 6-0 start on the road did tie its longest road winning streak to begin a season in franchise history. The 2011-12 team also won its first six games away from Pepsi Center.
The Avs had their chances to push the streak to seven games as they had plenty of scoring opportunities against the Canes, especially in the second half of Tuesday's game.
After being outshot 11-5 in the first period, the Avalanche finished with a 34-28 shot advantage at the final horn as it outshot the Hurricanes 19-12 in the second and 10-5 in the third.
Carolina took a 1-0 lead at 12:47 of the first period off Jordan Staal's rebound goal to continue the momentum that it had been generating through the early going.
That momentum could have easily shifted to Colorado's side of the ice in the first 20 minutes.
Less than a minute into the game, Ryan O'Reilly rang a shot off the right post before the puck rebounded off the back of Canes goalie Justin Peters. It appeared as if the puck was going to go off the netminder and trickle into the cage, but at the last second Peters swiped the puck away with his glove from behind his back to keep the contest scoreless.
PA Parenteau was robbed five minutes later as he was all alone in the slot, but Peters just got his right pad on the winger's backhand shot.
Later, Jamie McGinn had space while coming through the slot but missed high on his shot attempt.
"These are chances that would be nice to put it in," Colorado coach Patrick Roy said afterwards.
The Hurricanes soon connected on Staal's tally, and Patrick Dwyer added another one 26 seconds into the second period to make it a 2-0 game.
"They played well. I have to give it to them," Roy said. "They played really well at the start of the game. They were skating well. I thought we were trying to be a little too perfect, but they had a great transition going on.
"I would say to you that second half of the game was ours. We buzzed a lot around their net. We just didn't execute around THE net. That's all that we were missing because I thought we had a lot of chances."
The Avalanche ended up firing 72 pucks toward the Carolinanet and had seven players finish with multiple shots by he end of the game, but the Canes made it tough for the Avs to get into their defensive zone and then didn't allow many scoring chances from the outside as they finished with 16 blocked shots.
Still, Colorado had opportunities to tie the game late but couldn't capitalize on them.
"We had a good second half, and we had a lot of chances," Roy said. "I thought we played good enough to win tonight. Unfortunately for us, it was not on our side."
With Colorado down by one goal and down by one player after Erik Johnson was called for holding with 32 seconds remaining, Roy had a crucial decision to make.
Would he keep Semyon Varlamov on the ice while the ensuing faceoff took place in his own end? Or would he pull his netminder and possibly allow a quick goal by Carolina to seal its win?
Roy went with the latter, and it almost paid off.
Despite the Avs losing the faceoff, they put enough pressure on the Hurricanes to gain possession of the puck and get a 3-on-2 rush up the ice in the closing seconds.
The Avs were unable to score on the rush, but they wouldn't have had the opportunity if they didn't match the number of Carolina skaters and if the Colorado coach didn't have faith in his team to keep the puck out of the empty net.
MacKINNON TIES FRANCHISE RECORD
After being unable to get many shots on net in the first period, the Avalanche came back with a strong second and outshot the Hurricanes 19-12.
Leading the charge was rookie Nathan MacKinnon, who had seven shots in the middle frame and finished with nine shots in the game. MacKinnon's nine shots tied the franchise record for shots by a rookie in a game with Gabriel Landeskog, who did the feat twice during his rookie campaign in 2011-12.
"I think we started moving our feet more," MacKinnon said of what changed for the team from the first to the second period. "Tighten up in the slot and the [defensive] zone for sure."
MacKinnon had an assist on Colorado's only goal of the game, coming from Paul Stastny at 14:34 of the second period.
MacKinnon fired a wrist shot from the right circle that went off Peters and fell in the crease near the right post. Stastny was set up at the outside of the net and wrapped his stick around the iron to knock the puck in.
Avs coach Patrick Roy continued to have confidence in MacKinnon, who, after playing so well early in the contest on the third line, was eventually moved to a line with Stastny and Landeskog midway through the second period to help create more scoring opportunities.
PENALTY KILL GETS ANOTHER
The Avalanche was on pace to not take a penalty in the game until Johnson wad called for holding in the final minute. Colorado killed off the penalty and is now 20 for 20 on shorthanded chances away from home.
The Avs and the St. Louis Blues entered the night as the only teams in the NHL to have a perfect penalty kill on the road.
Colorado and St. Louis meet for the first time this season on Thursday night.