Blue Jackets drop Avs 3-2
This isn’t the start Joe Sakic was hoping for with the Avalanche under first-year coach Jared Bednar.
“Inconsistent,” the Avalanche general manager said before Colorado’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night at the Pepsi Center. “There’s part that I like and things I don’t like. We’re not a good enough team to not play with that sense of urgency, and I’ve found that we’ve lacked that in certain parts of games, especially starts here at home. I think with that urgency, we do ourselves a lot bigger favor.”
A little later, the Avalanche’s struggles on home ice continued, when Colorado fell 3-2 to the Blue Jackets and retained the distinction of being tied with the Arizona Coyotes for the fewest points in the NHL, at 19. Colorado’s home record dipped to 4-7-1 and, even more glaring, to 0-3-1 in a fivegame homestand that the Avalanche hoped to use to gain traction.
The surprising Blue Jackets (135-4) got goals from Brandon Saad, Nick Foligno and Boone Jenner and needed only 18 saves from goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
Blake Comeau and Sam Henley, who was playing his first NHL game after being recalled from San Antonio, had second-period goals as the Avalanche came back from a 2-0 deficit after the first. But the Blue Jackets broke the tie at 8:57 of the third, when Jenner knocked a pass from a whirling Cam Atkinson past Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov, who played well and finished with 35 saves.
That came shortly after the Avalanche drew three consecutive minors and was short-handed for a span of 5:39, including 40 seconds with a two-man disadvantage. Colorado seemed in good shape after that successful stretch of penalty-killing, but the Blue Jackets pulled it out on Jenner’s goal.
Comeau seemed to have tied it 3-3 at 17:51 of the third period with a deflection of a John Mitchell shot from the blue line, but a video review determined his stick was higher than the crossbar when he made contact with the puck.
Yes, the Avalanche’s frustrations mounted.
Sakic and the Avalanche continued to demonstrate its faith in the “core” — generally considered to be six players, now all tied up to long-term contracts — in the offseason, and the degree of that commitment was one of the issues that led to Patrick Roy’s sudden resignation in August.
“I have faith in them,” Sakic said. “But to me, the start is not a core thing; it’s a team thing. I think you see we’re trying to hold people accountable. We know we have certain guys who can give more, and those guys know they can give more, but it’s not like it’s a whole thing. We’re not as consistent as we need to be. We didn’t win two straight Cups and have that leeway. We have to play with that urgency every night on a consistent basis to be successful.”
Is he tempted to make changes now?
“Not right now, no,” he said. “It’s early in the year. First of all, changes are hard to do, especially this time of year. We’re two games under .500, but a four-game swing and you’re two games over .500 and right back in it.”
Sakic was drawn to the system Bednar outlined during the interview process.
“You know what? I like the system,” Sakic said. “And I think when the players are playing it and playing with that consistency and urgency, then we’re fine. And I think that’s how you have to play in today’s game. We’ve made errors you normally shouldn’t make and it’s come back and bitten us a little bit. Overall, I think the players are still adjusting and that’s a consistency type thing with the system. It’s not a hard system, but it’s still a work in progress.”
Columbus Blue Jackets center Boone Jenner, right, celebrates scoring the go-ahead goal. David Zalubowski, The Associated Press