NHL Colorado Avalanche

Colorado Avalanche Still in the Basement After Bad California Trip

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

That was certainly not a California road trip worth writing home about for the Colorado Avalanche.

First, they were downed 4-1 by the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 23. They found themselves in a 2-0 hole after the first period and, though Milan Hejduk was able to break through on the power play early in the second period, the home team answered by piling on two more goals – one shorthanded – in the same period to secure their victory. It was captain Gabriel Landeskog‘s first game back from injury and he did do well, getting an assist, adding four more shots and delivering two hits while playing about 19 minutes total. Perhaps that’s the bright spot of this beatdown.

Just a day later, the Avs stayed in the area to face the Anaheim Ducks, whose Pacific Division-leading record is very good, to say the least. At least at the beginning of the game, the Avalanche were able to make things look a little different than the previous outing. They were actually the ones to make it 2-0 before the first intermission, thanks to goals from Cody McLeod and P.A. Parenteau (on the power play). That increased Parenteau’s team-leading goal output to eight.

But the Ducks would not go quietly into the night. Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne scored within about two and a half minutes of one another to even up the score and John Mitchell got Colorado ahead less than a full minute after Selanne’s power play goal, but Ryan Getzlaf knotted the game up yet again in the third period. In overtime, Perry cashed in on a power play opportunity and won it 4-3.

Last night, the Avalanche capped off a cruddy California trip by losing 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks in a shootout. They allowed the first goal from Logan Couture just 25 seconds into the first – probably before some of the fans at the HP Pavilion were even settled in their seats – but Chuck Kobasew did get Colorado on the board 12 minutes later. TJ Galiardi‘s second-period goal might have been the difference-maker if not for some late-third heroics from Mark Olver. So, it was back to overtime for the Avs, where Semyon Varlamov’s big save kept his team in the game. You gotta see this:

A shootout was needed to decide this one, but only Parenteau was able to beat Antti Niemi. Michal Handzus and Patrick Marleau provided all the shootout snipes needed for the Sharks’ win. Interesting fact: both teams used defensemen in the shootout - Dan Boyle went up for the Sharks and Mitchell’s strange, failed move on Niemi in the fourth round netted it for San Jose.

They often say that a two-goal lead is the most difficult thing to keep in hockey. In the two recent games where the Avs found themselves on either side of a two-goal lead, this proved true, but they literally fell just short by one goal in two consecutive matches. Building up leads is great, but being able to hold and expand upon them is even better.

Now on a three-game losing streak, they’re headed back home for a game against the Calgary Flames on Feb. 28, but then back out on the road for another three-game trek, this time to the Central Division. This includes visiting the Columbus Blue Jackets, the only team in the Western Conference that has a worse record than the Avs.


Emma Harger is a Boston Bruins and NHL writer for RantSports.com. Follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook and add her to your network on Google.