Carolina Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek gathered or pushed aside everything the Avalanche threw at him Monday night, destroying the Avs’ glorious chance to gain ground in the Western Conference playoff hunt.
“I have to say, he played a great game,” Colorado ahead Mikko Rantanen stated.
After Minnesota dropped at home and Arizona dropped on the street, the Hurricanes skated off the Pepsi Center ice surface with a 3-0 victory, keeping Colorado two points behind the Wild and one in back of the Coyotes for the closing wild-card spot.
Carolina, which had never won in regulation in 12 previous games in Denver, got goals from defenseman Dougie Hamilton and right wing Andrei Svechnikov, who scored his second on an empty-net in the final minutes. But Mrazek was the player of this game, finishing with 38 saves, many in spectacular fashion.
“I’m (upset). How did we lose this game? ” Rantanen said. “This was the night we were going to catch Minny. ”
“We had lots of chances,” additional Avs defenseman Nikita Zadorov. “We had open nets. Just hard to win the game when you can’t finish. ”
Colorado (30-28-12, 72 points) went 0-for-3 on the power play and was shut out for the second time in three matches, and the fifth time overall. The Avs have 12 remaining matches.
“Is this crippling? I don’t believe so,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “We’re fortunate that (the Wild and Coyotes) lose. We’re still right there. I’ve said it all together — it’s probably going to come down right to the wire. ”
Analysis: Avalanche won’t improve on last season without finishing 12-0
The Avs riding goalie Philipp Grubauer again while fighting for their playoff lives
From AHL all-star to NHL fourth-liner, Avalanche’s Andrew Agozzino adapts
Chambers: Cale Makar poised to make an immediate impact with the Avalanche
Avalanche dominates Buffalo Sabres in first game without Gabe Landeskog
Carolina doubled its 1-0 lead 7:08 into the third period when Svechnikov capped a fabulous passing play Teuvo Teravainen and Justin Faulk. Svechnikov ultimately beat goalie Philipp Grubauer in the doorstep.
“We lost. We’re missing out on important points,” stated Grubauer, who had been making consecutive starts for the first time since Jan. 4.
The Hurricanes took a 1-0 lead at 10:07 of the next period. On a delayed penalty to Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson, Hamilton joined the rush and beat Grubauer using a wrist shot from the left circle. Maybe Hamilton wouldn’t happen to be in that position in a regular situation, but he knew a whistle could stop play when the Avs gained possession.
Carolina (38-24-7, 83 points), which solidified its position in the Eastern Conference playoffs, improved to 20-13-3 on the street.
“We just couldn’t beat Mrazek,” Bednar said. “I actually liked Grubauer, but Mrazek was really good tonight. ”
Footnotes. Colorado played its second game without left wing and team captain Gabe Landeskog, who will miss the remainder of the regular season having an abysmal injury. Landeskog is the Avs’ second-leading goal-scorer (33) and third in points (69). … The Avalanche will take Tuesday off and practice Wednesday and Thursday to prepare for Friday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks. The Avs conclude their four-game homestand Sunday against the New Jersey Devils.
Buy Tickets for every event – Sports, Concerts, Festivals and more buytickets.com