Another night, another recovery for the Avalanche. Tuesday’s in Nashville didn’t go all the way, with Colorado falling 5-4 in overtime to the Central Division leader.
Colorado trailed the Predators 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3. The Avalanche have won five straight games in which they came from behind. In each of those games, once the team seized control, it kept control. However, there were several false starts Tuesday.
Cale Makar quickstepped from the blue line to the faceoff dot and scored with 6:41 left in regulation to tie the game at 4. Colorado was then whistled for one too-many-men penalty so late it trickled into overtime, and another 2:32 into the extra period.
Avalanche alumnus Matt Duchene scored his second goal of the game while his team had a 4-on-3 advantage.
Makar said he was "right there" on the bench when the flagged line change took place.
“I haven’t seen a great angle on the camera yet, but overall, right there, it didn’t look like it was too many men to me,” Makar said. “It’s a tough call to make in OT, but it is what it is.
“Obviously we didn’t get the one (standings) point that we wanted, but at the end of the day, we still battled back again.”
The Avalanche played on back-to-back nights with travel and the team’s start, in keeping with recent history, was slow. Nashville was up 2-0 by the end of the first period.
“We didn’t capitalize on our first couple chances on the power play, which could have made a big difference there,” coach Jared Bednar said. “It took us a little bit longer to get the spark.”
Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Andre Burakovsky scored three and a half minutes apart to tie the game at 2. Makar (1 goal, 2 assists) did most of the puck moving, Nazem Kadri (2 assists) took the initial shot and Aube-Kubel took care of the rebound for his third goal in two games. Burakovsky scored while Nashville’s Mark Borowiecki was down and hurting on the ice.
The Predators pulled ahead again. J.T. Compher turned the puck over along the boards in the Colorado zone and it was quickly in the net.
With his team up 3-2, Nashville goaltender Jussi Saros (40 saves) stopped Logan O’Connor’s wraparound attempt and corralled the puck when Tyson Jost followed up. Nathan MacKinnon eventually got the equalizer, one-timing a Makar feed off the metal and in.
Compher blocked Roman Josi’s slap shot in overtime, but the puck bounced right to Duchene.
“Some guys were pretty livid with how that ended. But that’s just the way the game goes at the end of the day,” Makar said. “I guess you have to respect the ref’s decision, but definitely a tough call in the moment.”
Darcy Kuemper made 27 saves for Colorado.
“Tonight probably wasn’t his best night, but I could say that about a lot of guys in our room,” Bednar said.
The team announced before the game that rookie defenseman Bowen Byram “left the team for personal reasons” and forward Darren Helm had a lower-body injury. Ryan Murray went in for Byram and Mikhail Maltsev for Helm. Bednar said Helm was “dinged up” Monday and didn’t feel good enough to play.
Byram’s timeline is also unknown.
“I don’t know how long he’s going to be out for,” Bednar said. “He didn't play because of personal reasons and that's basically all I know. We'll respect that and hopefully he can get back to us here in the near future.”
Note: The league announced Bednar will serve as the Central Division’s head coach for the 2022 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend on Feb. 4-5 in Las Vegas. He’s the first coach in Avalanche history to serve as a head coach at the NHL All-Star Game. Bob Hartley (2000-01) and Marc Crawford (1995-96) went as assistant coaches.
The coaches of the teams with the highest points percentages in each of the four divisions through Monday were selected.