For a team that hasn’t lost consecutive games in regulation in more than two months, and just once in regulation/overtime all season, the Avalanche is probably a good bet to come out with at least a point Monday in the eight-game, regular-season finale against the St. Louis Blues.
The Avs (31-10-4), however, are only playing for playoff seeding, while the desperate Blues (20-19-6) are in a tight race to advance to the postseason. St. Louis’ desperation showed Saturday when it overcame an early 2-0 deficit to defeat the Avs 5-3 at Enterprise Center. The teams conclude a three-game set Monday; it’s Colorado’s fourth consecutive game against the Blues after its recent COVID shutdown.
“Another probable playoff-style game,” Avs defenseman Cale Makar said of Monday’s final game against St. Louis. “We need these types to get ready, obviously, for the playoffs. They’re key for us. It’s just going to be playing consistently and just bringing our game. I don’t think we got off our game too much (Saturday) and they were able to capitalize on that. It’s an opportunistic team that likes to funnel pucks to the net. We know that. We just have to be ready for that. The next one is definitely going to be a grind and it should be a fun one.”
The Avs haven’t lost consecutive games in regulation since Feb. 22 and Feb. 24, when they fell 3-0 to Vegas and 6-2 to Minnesota, respectively, at Ball Arena. They lost 5-4 in overtime to Anaheim on March 6 and 3-2 on March 8 to Arizona — both also at Ball Arena — in the only other two-game stretch they didn’t collect at least two points.
Colorado is 5-2 against the Blues, who snapped a five-game losing streak against the Avs on Saturday.
“We know what we have to do against these guys in order to beat them,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “They’re playing with a lot of desperation. I thought they played a great hockey game (Saturday). We got to jump on them early but they competed hard. I thought we matched that (but) we didn’t manage the puck as we could have in the first (period), to talk about some of the rush opportunities we gave up.
“We have a recipe for success against these guys but we have to be better at it. We got to be more disciplined. Their power play is just starting to go and they’ve got some dangerous guys there. It’s a matter of commitment, discipline and execution. I believe our guys will bounce back. We did enough good things (Saturday) that we probably could have won the hockey game. But we left it to chance. We definitely don’t want to do that Monday.”
Footnotes. The Avs were off Sunday in St. Louis. They will have a morning skate ahead of Monday’s 6 p.m. CT start. … The Vegas Golden Knights won their ninth consecutive game Saturday night, defeating Anaheim 5-1 to stretch their West Division lead over the Avs to four points. Colorado has played two fewer games than the Knights (34-11-2), who host the Avs on Wednesday in the seventh meeting between the clubs. The eighth and final game in the series is May 10 in Las Vegas, which could decide the West Division title and Presidents’ Trophy with the NHL’s best record.
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