5 takeaways from the Avalanche’s 4-2 loss to Columbus – The Denver Post

The Avalanche spoiled a great performance by goaltender Darcy Kuemper and lost 4-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night at Nationwide Arena. Colorado fell to 4-5-1 in 10 games, with a four-day hiatus until its next game Thursday against the visiting Vancouver Canucks.

Five takeaways:

Excellent net effort. Kuemper faced 41 shots and made 38 saves. He wasn’t the problem. The Avs took a 2-1 lead in the third period for the second straight game – both against Columbus – and allowed 16 shots in the final 20 minutes.

Kuemper awarded the tying goal to Alexandre Texier on an odd rebound in the corner with 6:23 to go – with Texier off-skating defender Sam Girard to retrieve the puck and put it out of the far post and in – and the le Match winner came out of the Cole Sillinger deflection which Kuemper didn’t see with just 1:02 to go.

Columbus added a goal into an empty net to complete a 2-0 streak against the Avs, who lost 5-4 in overtime to the Blue Jackets on Wednesday at Ball Arena.

“Darcy was our best player,” Avs winger Mikko Rantanen said after the game. “But he needs our help. In the third, I felt that we didn’t have our legs. We didn’t create much until they equalized the game. Lots of sliding, not physical enough. Very disappointing. This is not the way to win games in the NHL.

Powerless. Colorado was 0-for-4 on the power play, finishing 0-of-7 against the Blue Jackets in all two games, and is now 4-for-39 (10.5%, ranked 29th in the league of 32 teams) over the season. The Avs are the Stanley Cup preseason favorites and their power play should be very productive. But their inability to capitalize on the man advantage is one of the main reasons they are below 0.500 in 10 games.

Bourakovsky. Second row left winger Andre Burakovsky scored two goals, both evenly matched. But he was on the ice for Columbus’ first two goals and finished with a score of zero. Burakovsky has only had two shots and he made them both count, but he’s certainly part of the problem as the Avs continue to flip the pucks and can’t find consistent play in either direction.

Burakovsky made two great games to score goals. But he continues to be a handicap with the puck when he’s not in the end zones.

“We handled the pucks badly,” said Avs coach Jared Bednar. “We did not perform our sorties.”

No excuses. The injured Avs were without six starters in Wednesday’s overtime loss, but three of them returned on Saturday. Rantanen had missed three games with a lower body injury, but managed six shots, a record for the team. Burakovsky was back in the top six after missing Wednesday’s game. And defender Devon Toews made his season debut after offseason shoulder surgery and scored 21:08, second on the team behind partner Bo Byram (22:24).

Still, the Avs were outscored for the sixth time in 10 games and are three points from a playoff berth.

Hits through traffic. Columbus defenseman Zach Werenski had 10 shots, a game-high, and the Blue Jackets blue line combined 14, seven more than the entire Avalanche defensive body. Colorado is missing first pair defenseman Cale Makar and it shows. Byram and Toews make a solid first couple, but they only produced one hit. Colorado’s inability to get more shots in traffic on goaltender Elvis Merzlikins limited his second chance opportunities.

Footnote. The Avs are expected to take Sunday off and train at the Family Sports Center on Monday.

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