The Colorado Avalanche were feeling good after they defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 10 days ago.
It was their third win in four contests, they were heading home for a five-game homestand with a .500 mark and looking to build some momentum heading into the second month of the season.
Instead of surging, the Avalanche are searching for answers after three straight losses – including one in a shootout. Colorado can turn things around on Thursday when it hosts the Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
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The poor starts, defensive lapses and lack of focus for 60 minutes need to be fixed if Colorado (9-11-1) is going to start winning.
“It better start coming from inside,” coach Jared Bednar said after Tuesday's 5-3 loss to Nashville. “The players are going to have to solve that a little bit on their own. They know what the expectations are, what the standard is and we have to continually strive to meet that standard and get more consistent.”
Bednar wants it to start against the Blue Jackets, a team with which the Avalanche made a trade on Monday. The clubs swapped minor league defensemen with Ryan Stanton going to Columbus for Cody Goloubef. Both players reported to their respective teams' American Hockey League affiliates.
Goloubef could end up with Colorado if the defense continues to struggle. The Avalanche aren't getting enough consistency from 21-year-old Nikita Zadarov, who had a costly turnover in the first period that led to Nashville's first goal Tuesday.
But Zadarov's play isn't the main reason for Colorado's struggles. Injuries are an issue, too.
Goaltender Semyon Varlamov missed two straight games but will be in net Thursday. Forward Gabriel Landeskog was placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury, retroactive to Nov. 15.
Bednar said Wednesday that the team is considering recalling one or two players from San Antonio, one of which might be A.J. Greer. Bednar has repeatedly said Landeskog is day to day but he hasn't skated since Friday. He didn't play in Colorado's 3-2 overtime win in Columbus on Nov. 21, a rare November loss for the Blue Jackets.
Columbus (12-5-4) finished the month 9-2-3 and is tied with Washington for third place in the Metropolitan Division before Wednesday night's NHL schedule. The Blue Jackets are coming off a 5-1 win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday and are feeling confident.
“We certainly know we've climbed a ladder here,” coach John Tortorella told The Columbus Dispatch. “We've talked about the standard of play, the accountability factor of how you play, how you practice. And then when the season starts, do you go in there and hope you're going to win, or do you go in there with swagger and know you're going to get it done?
“You're certainly not going to win them all. There's a lot of things that go into winning and losing in the NHL. But I like where the attitude has gone to here.”