Blue Jack­ets drop Avs 3-2

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Terry Frei

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

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