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