Jared Bednar didn’t seem to be seething near as much this time, but he again sat at the podium Monday lamenting costly mistakes, missed opportunities, a lack of resolve and of depth scoring.
It’s no surprise the Colorado Avalanche, coached by Bednar, are halfway toward elimination from the Stanley Cup Playoffs after two games against the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Second Round.
They lost 5-2 in Game 2 at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Monday after losing 5-3 in Game 1 on Saturday, when Bednar offered scathing remarks about the team in his postgame comments, suggesting half the team didn’t show up to play.
“There’s a lot to like from tonight’s game, more to like from Game 1, but to me that’s a moral victory,” Bednar said. “It’s about results.”
The Avalanche blame themselves for not getting them.
They had a 2-0 lead on power-play goals from Nathan MacKinnon at 6:08 of the first period and Mikko Rantanen at 8:54 of the second, but ill-timed penalties combined with the inability to kill them off changed the game.
Samuel Girard slashed Jason Dickinson six seconds after Rantanen made it 2-0. Ian Cole cross-checked Joe Pavelski 43 seconds later, giving the Stars a 5-on-3 for 1:17.
Dallas needed 11 seconds of it before Pavelski scored to make it 2-1 at 9:54. Radek Faksa scored on the ensuing 5-on-4 at 10:37 to tie it 2-2.
“To me, not the end of the world yet,” Bednar said.
But 91 seconds after Faksa scored, the Avalanche started a 5-on-3 of their own. They couldn’t score. MacKinnon hit the crossbar when it was a 5-on-4. No goal. An opportunity to regain the lead and steal back momentum gone.
The Stars made it 3-2 at 15:34. They made it 4-2 at 19:14.
The Avalanche didn’t like the fourth goal, scored by Esa Lindell.
Gabriel Landeskog questioned how it could be called a goal on the ice when it didn’t appear the puck crossed the goal line. Bednar said he would have liked to see the officials wave it off and then go to review it to determine if the puck crossed the goal line.
They reviewed it and upheld the call of a good goal.
“Maybe it’s a mistake, maybe it’s not. I have no idea,” Bednar said. “My goal is to make sure that our team is responding after goals against or a bad bounce here and there and instill that we have this belief that we can bounce back from things that are thrown at us. Our resolve just wasn’t where it needed to be after a bad break, a bad penalty. The game is not over. We have to be better. This time of year, we have to expect more from each other.”
The Avalanche were not dangerous in the third period.
They had 10 shots on goal, but it wasn’t a particularly difficult period for Dallas goalie Anton Khudobin, who made 38 saves. They went 0-for-2 with two shots on goal on the power play in the third because they were guilty of being too fancy, Bednar said.
“For some reason we couldn’t get back on our feet after that second period,” Landeskog said.
Even more alarming for how this series might go the rest of the way is the bigger picture of the Avalanche’s depth scoring.
They have five goals in two games against Dallas, each scored by a player on their first line, with MacKinnon involved in all five, scoring three and assisting on two.
The Avalanche averaged three goals per game from players not named MacKinnon, Landeskog or Rantanen in their first eight games in Edmonton, the West hub city. They got 19 goals from second-, third- and fourth-line forwards, and five goals from defensemen.
“If I knew exactly where it had gone I would have a better chance at grabbing a solution before tonight,” Bednar said of Colorado’s depth scoring. “We do have some guys who normally give us some scoring that are fighting it a little bit. Definitely more mental than physical. Our intentions are right and some guys are questioning themselves a little bit.
“I believe we have [the depth scoring] in us. I don’t think it’s all of a sudden miraculously gone. It’s just the mental side of believing we can do it.”
The Avalanche won’t find examples of proof from their past two games. If it’s more of the same conversation after Game 3 on Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS), their stay in the bubble may not last into the weekend.
“You have to dig in and you need other guys to step up,” Bednar said. “Everyone who goes any kind of distance is going to run into injuries, bad breaks, and the teams that respond and overcome are the teams that will advance.”