AVALANCHE

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Terry Frei

Play­ing in Den­ver, Toronto takes a 3-0 lead into the sec­ond pe­riod and pounds Colorado 6-0.

The Avalanche on Thurs­day night played as if that ob­ject on the Colorado skaters’ sticks was a lump of coal, not a puck.

In the wake of Colorado’s ugly 6-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Pepsi Cen­ter, here’s the up­dated tale of woe.

As Christ­mas ap­proaches, the Avalanche has:

• An eight-game home win­less streak. • A five-game los­ing streak. • And a par­tridge in a pear tree. So is it time to blow this up? “You’re ask­ing the wrong guy,” said Avalanche captain Gabe Lan­deskog. “All we can con­trol is what we do in the ice and how hard we work on a daily ba­sis. You know that. It’s prob­a­bly as frus­trat­ing as it’s ever been, but we can’t just roll over and feel sorry for our­selves. We’re go­ing to work as hard as we can and re­spond (Fri­day night at Chicago) and then en­joy Christ­mas and think about what we can do to turn this thing around.”

Nathan MacK­in­non noted: “We didn’t even de­serve to be in the NHL tonight, it was so bad, 6-0. We’re los­ing and we’re not los­ing by one. We’re los­ing by four or five or six tonight. We have to have a short mem­ory. We’re play­ing the best team in the NHL (Fri­day) night in Chicago. Hope­fully we can get a win there and head into the break on a positive note.”

The cal­en­dar year is com­ing to a rocky end for first-year Avalanche coach Jared Bed­nar, who was asked if he still had faith in this team’s per­son­nel or if some­thing needed to be done to change it.

“We’re al­ways ex­am­in­ing, No. 1,” he said. “Ev­ery game. If you look at tonight, it’s no dif­fer­ent than some of our other losses. We cre­ated some good chances tonight, noth­ing on the board. At some point, we have to find a way to score a goal. Tonight, we’re in a game, chances are equal and next thing you know, we’re down 3-0 and it’s 5-0. I don’t think it was a 6-0 game, but the zero is … you have to find a way to not be at zero.”

The Maple Leafs got started with a goal at 7:13 of the first pe­riod from wun­derkind Aus­ton Matthews, the Phoenix-area prod­uct who was the No. 1 over­all pick in this year’s draft, and led 3-0 af­ter one and 5-0 af­ter 29 min­utes. That led to an evac­u­a­tion by many of the pay­ing cus­tomers and to the yank­ing of Avalanche goalie Se­myon Var­lamov.

The Russian vet­eran was both shaky and hung out to dry, al­low­ing the five goals on 18 shots be­fore get­ting the hook, with Calvin Pickard com­ing on for the fi­nal 31 min­utes. Ul­ti­mately, Nazem Kadri had two goals for the Maple Leafs, and goalie Fred­erik An­der­sen had 38 saves.

The Avalanche was 0-for-6 on the power play, not even scor­ing on a cou­ple of 5-on-3 ad­van­tages to­tal­ing 2:18.

Colorado hasn’t won at the Pepsi Cen­ter since beat­ing the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 on Nov. 15, and hasn’t won, pe­riod, since de­feat­ing the Maple Leafs 3-1 at Toronto on Dec. 11. Since Colorado was a re­spectable 9-9-0 on Nov. 21, it has gone 2-11-1. The 11-20-1 over­all record leaves Colorado with 23 points, by four points the low­est to­tal in the NHL.

Colorado’s Pa­trick Wier­cioch and Toronto’s James van Riems­dyk bat­tle for con­trol of the puck dur­ing Thurs­day night’s game at the Pepsi Cen­ter. Matthew Stock­man, Getty Im­ages

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