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Mistakes loom large as Avalanche stumbles to fifth loss in six games

Corey Masisak, The Denver Post on

Published in Hockey

DENVER — There’s been portions of every game during their current slump where the Colorado Avalanche felt good about how they played.

That was true about the effort Saturday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, but the mistakes were more frequent and more damaging. Travis Konecny scored twice, including an insurance goal on a penalty shot midway through the third period, to help propel the Flyers to a 5-2 win against the Avalanche at Ball Arena.

“We’re turning the puck over too much,” Avs forward Andrew Cogliano said. “I think as a forward group we need to understand who we are. We have some of the best players in the world, but the other guys have to realize that sometimes putting the puck in (the offensive zone) and getting momentum and forechecking and wearing teams down that way is better than trying to make a play at the blue line and turning it over.

“It seems like we’re doing way too much of that.”

That’s also five losses in six games (1-3-2) for the first time this season, though the two extra points for losing after regulation blunt some of the negative impact for the Avs. Still, this wasn’t the response the club was looking for after just an OK showing against Winnipeg in this building two nights before.

Avs coach Jared Bednar continued to tinker with the lineup, both before this contest started and while it was ongoing. Mikko Rantanen, who has not scored a goal in nine games, began the game as the second-line center, but eventually moved back to his normal role next to Nathan MacKinnon on the top line. Ryan Johansen was demoted to the fourth line at the outset of this one.

 

“I started (Rantanen) there because I wanted to get him skating,” Bednar said. “I still want to see him there. But I popped him out there with Mac and Val (Nichushkin) a couple times and felt like all three of those guys were playing hard and could maybe make something happen on the offensive side of it.”

Konecny put the Flyers on the board at 17:41 of the first period. There was a long outlet pass in Sean Couturier’s direction. He jostled with Johansen for control of the puck just inside the Avalanche blue line, then fed Konecny with a great pass in behind two Colorado players.

MacKinnon responded 78 seconds later. Just like the Flyers goal, the play started at the other end. MacKinnon collected a cross-ice pass from Josh Manson along the left boards in the neutral zone, and then blew past three Flyers before tucking a shot off goalie Carter Hart into the net.

It was MacKinnon’s 11th goal of the season and his 11th straight game with a point. While the lineup continues to be in flux around him, MacKinnon continues to be one of the league’s most dominant players over the several weeks.

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