Blue Jackets-Avalanche Preview
The Colorado Avalanche turned the page on a disappointing 2014 portion of their schedule and began the new year on a positive note.
Now coach Patrick Roy is hoping his club can regain the scoring touch it has lost recently.
Colorado looks to win a third straight game Sunday night against a Columbus Blue Jackets squad coming off a rough start to a four-game road trip.
The Avalanche (15-15-8) had 52 points heading into 2014 on their way to winning the Central last season, but they had 16 fewer heading into this month and have been one of the NHL’s biggest disappointments while sitting last in the division.
Colorado has scored two goals or fewer in three of its last four, including Friday when it held on to beat Edmonton 2-1 in a shootout.
”It’s great to start the new year with a big win,” said forward Matt Duchene, who assisted on Daniel Briere’s goal then scored in the shootout. ”We want to roll through January here.”
Roy wasn’t as giddy about the victory. The Avalanche were outshot 12-3 in the third period as Semyon Varlamov made 27 saves through regulation and OT, and they have gone 1 for 10 on the power play over the last four after failing on both attempts Saturday.
"We had some good opportunities we missed and I just feel we are a little too tight around the net and need to relax," Roy said. "It’s sad in some ways we’re not as confident as we should be around the net. You’re up by one goal when you should be up by two or three."
Captain Gabriel Landeskog has scored at least 22 goals in each of his two seasons not shortened by a lockout, but he has only seven this season and hasn’t scored since Nov. 29 – a stretch of 14 games.
"It will go in eventually," Roy said.
Goals could be easier to come by against Columbus (16-17-3), which fell 6-3 to Arizona on Saturday to mark the third time in six games it has allowed at least five.
Defenseman Fedor Tyutin ended a 60-game goal drought while James Wisniewski and Ryan Johansen also scored for the Blue Jackets, who went 10-1-1 in December.
They held a 2-1 lead less than five minutes into the second period after Tyutin and Wisniewski’s goals before giving up the next five.
"Our urgency and desperation wasn’t high enough (Saturday)," coach Todd Richards said. "They won battles, we lost battles."
Sergei Bobrovsky allowed each goal on 31 shots before being pulled early in the third period in favor of Curtis McElhinney. Columbus was outshot 29-18 through two periods.
”You hate to do that to our goalie,” winger Matt Calvert said. ”We gave up a lot of chances.”
McElhinney could get the start in this contest. He’s 2-5-1 with a 3.31 goals-against average in nine starts this season and 2-2-0 with a 3.26 GAA in four career appearances against the Avalanche.
Varlamov is 3-1-0 with a 1.68 GAA in his last four starts and could get the nod again in this contest. He’s 3-0-1 with a 1.70 GAA in his last four outings against the Blue Jackets.
Landeskog scored his second goal of the game in overtime to give the Avalanche a 3-2 victory over Columbus in the most recent meeting April 1.
Colorado is 3-0-2 in its last five against the Blue Jackets.