Colorado’s X’s and O’s still don’t spell suc­cess

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Mike Cham­bers

dal­las» Save for a tic-tac-toe scor­ing play by Matt Duch­ene, Mikko Ran­ta­nen and Tyson Bar­rie and a third-pe­riod power-play goal by Mikhail Grig­orenko, the Avalanche didn’t do enough to over­come its mis­cues in its NHL-high 22nd loss here Thurs­day night.

Dal­las pre­vailed 4-2 at Amer­i­can Air­lines Cen­ter to pin the Avs with their sev­enth loss in their past nine games — and third con­sec­u­tive set­back to the Stars since win­ning 6-5 on open­ing night. Duch­ene and Bar­rie had two-point nights in Colorado’s come­back ef­fort, but a 3-1 deficit proved too deep a hole.

“It’s tough. I think it’s wear­ing on guys, for sure,” Duch­ene said of the Avs’ 3-13-1 record since Nov. 23. “It’s not for a lack of work. We’re work­ing hard. I don’t think we’re a very con­fi­dent group right now. The only thing to do, though, is to come ev-

ery day and treat it like a new day and work our way out of it.”

Tyler Seguin scored his sec­ond goal of the night on an empty-net with 26 sec­onds re­main­ing to clinch the win for the Stars, who are on a three-game win­ning streak and a 5-1-1 run.

Colorado be­gan the sea­son 3-1 and was 9-9 as late as Nov. 21. Since then, the Avs have won just three times in 17 games.

“The con­fi­dence, I think we were shaken a cou­ple weeks back al­ready, as far as that goes,” said the Avs’ first-year coach, Jared Bed­nar. “Our goal is to make sure we’re tak­ing care of things we can con­trol.

“We’re try­ing to stay pos­i­tive with our guys. We want our guys to stay pos­i­tive and be good team­mates to each other, con­trol our work ethic and our at­ten­tion to de­tail — and dis­ci­plined as well. Those things we con­trol. Re­gard­less of our record is or what the score is, that will be our mes­sage mov­ing for­ward the whole sea­son.”

For­wards Devin Shore and Seguin staked the Stars to a 2-0 lead and, af­ter Duch­ene pro­duced his team-lead­ing 13th goal on a NHL Net­work-high­light line rush, Dal­las de­fense­man Jamie Olek­siak un­corked a seem­ingly per­fect shot in re­build­ing the host’s twogoal lead. The Stars out­shot the Avs 23-13 af­ter two pe­ri­ods and 3419 over­all.

Grig­orenko got the Avs within 3-2 mid­way through the third pe­riod, but the Stars held on and added Seguin’s empty-net­ter. The teams com­bined to go 0-for-10 on the power play, with the Avs go­ing 0-of-4 in 6:30.

Goalie Calvin Pickard ab­sorbed his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive loss and third in his past four starts since tak­ing over for the in­jured Se­myon Var­lamov.

“Dug our­selves a hole there half­way through the first pe­riod, and it’s never easy to dig your­self out on the road,” Pickard said. “I thought we bat­tled pretty hard. We didn’t have a whole lot go­ing, but our PK was huge, held us tight through­out the game. But an­other tough loss, for sure.”

Duch­ene struck at 15:48 of the sec­ond pe­riod, de­posit­ing his own re­bound in the net af­ter it set­tled just out­side the left post. Ran­ta­nen and Bar­rie trig­gered the goal with ter­rific passes be­fore Duch­ene got his first shot on goalie Kari Le­hto­nen. Le­hto­nen was re­placed by Antti Niemi 4:56 into the third pe­riod af­ter he was run over by the Avs’ Jarome Iginla, who had a tough night by twice putting his team on the penalty kill.

The Avalanche re­turns home for Satur­day’s New Years Eve game against the New York Rangers. Colorado is 4-12-1 at the Pepsi Cen­ter.

Stars de­fense­man Jamie Olek­siak puts the puck past Avalanche goal­tender Calvin Pickard dur­ing the sec­ond pe­riod of Colorado’s 4-2 loss in Dal­las. LM Otero, The As­so­ci­ated Press

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