The first game that started the Avalanche’s busiest month in the club’s history turned into an idiot.
Colorado, which started Monday with three wins on the road, scored the first two goals of the game but lost control and suffered a 6-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center.
After two spells tied 2-2, the Sharks scored goals from Rudolfs Balcers, Erik Karlsson (power play) and John Leonard within seven minutes when they won the opener of the two-game set in San Jose.
Evander Kane scored a clean 1:07 goal for San Jose, outbid by a 2-1 lead early and 35:27 for the game.
“We kind of gave them this win,” said Avs winger Mikko Rantanen, who appeared in his 300th career game. “At the start of the third period it’s a 2-2 street hockey game and the first five minutes were in the D-zone. We are in the D-Zone for the whole five minutes. I don’t think this is the beginning you are looking for in a street game, (tie) 2-2. “
He added, “It’s very frustrating.”
Avs’ Sam Girard and Gabe Landeskog scored a goal to put goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer 2-0 up, but things went downhill from then on as Colorado played the first of 17 games in 31 days that month.
The avalanche was without two key young defenders. Cale Makar, 22, did not travel to San Jose. Instead, he flew solo from Arizona to Denver on Sunday to check for an upper body injury that was preventing him from beating the Coyotes 6-2 on Saturday. 19-year-old Bo Byram got scratched after morning skating. The club said he also had an upper body injury.
Daniel Renouf stood in for Makar again and Conor Timmins dropped out of the taxi squad to replace Byram.
Colorado built a 2-0 lead with a late goal from Girard in the first half and a power play goal from Landeskog early in the second half.
Girard’s goal, a wrister from the right circle, marked the 14th time in 19 games that the Avalanche scored the first goal. The Avs fell to 10-3-1. The backhand of Landeskog next to the net was the 203rd record of his career and surpassed the Swedish compatriot Peter Forsberg with an avalanche sweater in third place.
Landeskog also linked Forsberg with 54 career power play goals, the fourth in the club’s history. Star Center MacKinnon had an assist in the game to tie Alex Tanguay (321) for fourth place in the club’s history.
The Sharks rallied to make it 2-2 with even goals at 6:13 and 16:48 in the middle frame. Defender Radim Simek pinched off the blue line and quickly fired a shot between the circles, and Kevin Labanc tapped in a feed from the front door.
The Avs had carried the game all the way to Labanc’s goal for much of the game. And then everything changed.
“I think the turning point was a handful of minutes in the second period,” said Avs coach Jared Bednar. “In our first phase we came out, we competed, we played hard, we did the right things. We put pucks behind her D and went to work. We held onto pucks in the offensive zone, skated, made it difficult for them to defend and forced them to defend in their own zone, using our skills, speed and legs. We took some penalties, played some power games and had good chances to score …
“We came out and started the second the same way. When we built up the 2-0 lead after the power play goal, we got stubborn and turned the puck around, tried to score in a hurry, got chic and got off our schedule. Guys are saying the right things on the bench, but the next lineup came out repeating the same mistakes. We had way too many sales. “
The rematch at the SAP Center is Wednesday night, the fourth game of the six-game road trip for the Avs, who also play in Anaheim on Friday and Saturday.
Footnotes: The Nazem Kadri and MacKinnon centers had seven and six shots respectively after two periods, but none in the third. … The wingers Brandon Saad and Andre Burakovsky were arrested without a shot. Toews posted a team high of 27:02 but produced no shot either. … Defender Ryan Graves was minus 4. The Avs scratches were Makar, Byram and striker Matt Calvert (upper body injury). Defenders Erik Johnson and Dennis Gilbert and goalkeeper Pavel Francouz remain in reserve for long-term injuries. The Avs finished last month 5-3, their eleventh “win” month in a row and the longest stretch in the club’s history. The previous record was 10 from March 2000 to October 2001. Colorado won the Stanley Cup in 2000-01.