Colorado Avalanche Forget how to Hockey, Lose to Flames

CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 1: Elias Lindholm #28 of the Calgary Flames skates against the Colorado Avalanche during an NHL game on November 1, 2018 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 1: Elias Lindholm #28 of the Calgary Flames skates against the Colorado Avalanche during an NHL game on November 1, 2018 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Colorado Avalanche played some bad hockey from start to finish — especially finish — to lose a game in the third period.

The Colorado Avalanche allowed five straight goals in the third period. Five. Straight. Goals. They went into the third period leading by three goals and lost 6-5. That’s what you call a hemorrhage, folks.

They deserved to lose. There were some inequities, especially in the officiating. But the Avs came out flat. The rookies got a little excited and scored first goals (more on that in a later post when I’m not so… bitter). But one of the biggest  disappointments of the night was how bad the “best line in the NHL” was. Not bad like didn’t produce anything, but bad like they forgot how to hockey.

Especially in the third period.

Let’s look at the keys to the game then rant a little bit about how badly  things went wrong in the third period.

Game Management

Yeah, it didn’t exist. Going into the first intermission, the Flames had 13 shots on goal. Colorado had four. The gap got a little narrower in the second — 26 Flames shots to 14 by the Avs. At that point, it was all Semyon Varlamov all the time.

In the third period, it was all Calgary all the time. No one played well. The captain, Gabriel Landeskog, got a goal in the final minute — meaning I couldn’t run with my intended “five unanswered goals” lede. But not one single player wearing burgundy and blue managed the game well in the third.

It was a comedy of errors. Only so not funny.

Tyson Barrie Score Watch

Nope, not yet. Tyson Barrie earned an assist on Sheldon Dries’ first-ever NHL goal, which is pretty rad. And there was a breakaway chance in the second period that I was sure was going to go in.

But it didn’t. We’re still on Tyson Barrie Goal Watch.

Hot Scorers

More from Analysis

The Colorado Avalanche’s top line has been getting glowing praise from the NHL for at least the last week. It’s been making me uncomfortable. I like it better when our guys are being quietly great.

Because when they’re spectacularly bad like they were tonight, it seems like fewer people notice.

Anyway, as I mentioned, Landeskog did score a goal late in the third period. That puts him at 17 points (11 goals, 6 assists). He’s on a three-game points/goals streak. In the last nine games, Landeskog has 15 points (10 goals, 5 assists). The only game he didn’t earn a point in was the shutout by Tampa Bay.

Neither Mikko Rantanen nor Nathan MacKinnon earned any points.

The Hemorrhage

We’re back to it: Five straight goals in the third period. You’re never going to win when you let a team score five straight on you in the third.

A pivot point was the controversial hit Ian Cole laid on Mark Jankowski:

Thank you to Nahtan Rudolph of Burgundy Rainbow for slowing the video way down:

Altitude TV analyst — and former Avalanche player — Mark Rycroft declared that a “clean hockey hit,” adding, “If that’s not a clean hit, I don’t know what is.”

Coach Jared Bednar — and coaches rarely take sides on referee call, especially old Bednar — said, “It’s a good hit. It’s a clean hit.”

Altitude TV play-by-play announcer Marc Moser nailed it: “Momentum changed on the Ian Cole hit.”

Or, more precisely, momentum changed on the 20 minutes’ of penalties called on that hit. Cole fought Sam Bennett, so he got assessed five for fighting, five for charging and a 10-minute game misconduct. Cole got tossed.

Thanks to Sam Bennett’s instigator penalty, the Flames only had three minutes of power play time, but it was enough. Just 45 seconds into the third period, Elias Lindholm scored. And so began 19 minutes of total domination by the Flames when the ice in front of goalie Mike Smith probably remained pristine for a large chunk of time.

Were the officials solely responsible for the loss? Of course not. You go into the third period with a three-goal lead, you need to win the game. End of story. Was it a factor? Absolutely.

You know what made it worse? This no-goal call on Gabriel Bourque:

The Avs lost by just one goal, and that should have been a good goal, intent to blow the whistle be damned. However, the Avalanche did not play well enough to win the game. Here’s what defenseman Mark Barberio said in his post-game presser:

"“They were taking it to us all night, You get what you deserve in this game, and they deserved to win…You can’t take your foot off the pedal in this league.”"

And that’s exactly what they did. As TV color announcer Peter McNab observed in his post-game analysis, “There were so many things that went wrong, that you can put your finger on any one thing. It was all bad.”

Alternate captain Erik Johnson put it more succinctly:

Johnson is not known for pulling his punches.

One last observation, then we’ll end on a high note (as we must if we want to keep our sanity as sports fans). Nathan MacKinnon was bad. Like, hurt the team bad. I guess he’s earned that right since he carried them to the playoffs last season, but that was brutal to watch.

In the waning seconds of the third, MacKinnon closed in on a goalie who’d allowed five goals on 26 shots (he won with a save percentage of .808%). He had the puck on his stick, and he could tie the game… only to miss the net. That was MacKinnon’s night in a nutshell.

Next. Avs Miss JT Compher. dark

Well, the Cinderella rule needs to apply tonight more than ever before. You can’t be too high after a win or too low after a loss. The Colorado Avalanche have already boarded a plane for Vancouver. In under 24 hours we’ll get to see them in action again. Time to put this game in our rearview mirrors.