The Colorado Avalanche had a couple of impressive streaks rolling with one game left before the All-Star break. The team with the worst record in the Western Conference tossed all of them in the dumpster.
Riding a five-game losing streak, the Arizona Coyotes upended the Avs 3-2 in a shootout on Tuesday. The loss snapped Colorado’s 18-game home winning streak – the fifth-longest streak of its kind in NHL history. Colorado had also won 10 in a row overall. Arizona goaltender Scott Wedgewood made 38 saves for Arizona, giving him a win for the first time since Dec. 17.
Here are three takeaways from Tuesday’s loss:
Rantanen Delivers Again
The Avalanche have three All-Stars this season with Nazem Kadri, Nathan MacKinnon (who won’t play due to injury), and Cale Makar. It’s too bad there weren’t more roster spots because a case could be made for Mikko Rantanen to be there, too. He scored his 24th goal of the season on Tuesday, putting him in a tie for seventh-most in the league.
Rantanen has been one of the most reliable Avalanche players all season. He has gone without a point in back-to-back games only twice this season – and one of those instances came back in October. He also hasn’t gone more than four games without a goal this season. Rantanen is only seven goals away from his career-high of 31, set in 2018-19. He also played in the All-Star game that season.
The goal was an important one, as it came with 42 seconds left in the second period and gave the Avs a 2-1 lead entering the third period. Colorado has been virtually unbeatable, with a lead going into the final stanza. But Arizona’s Lawson Crouse came up with late heroics of his own, knocking in the equalizer with 38 seconds left in regulation to set up the Coyotes for the shootout victory. Even with the shootout loss, the Avalanche are 15-0-2 at home when leading after two periods.
Kadri Keeps Clicking
Kadri knows a lot about patience. After all, he waited until he was 31 to have the best season of his career. He showed some more patience on Tuesday, outlasting Wedgewood for a gorgeous backhand goal to start the scoring. The unassisted goal gave Kadri 60 points, just four behind NHL leader Jonathan Huberdeau of the Florida Panthers.
The goal gave Kadri 19 for the season and extended his point streak to five games. He has four goals and five assists over that stretch. It’s impossible to diminish Kadri’s importance to Colorado’s success this season. His 60 points are just one shy of his career-high – and he’s pulled it off in just 40 games. He rang up 61 points in the 2016-17 season with the Toronto Maple Leafs but needed all 82 games to do it.
Kadri is dominating the scoresheet for Colorado. His 60 points are six more than Rantanen’s 54, which is second on the team. Gabriel Landeskog is third on the team in points, but Kadri is a whopping 15 points clear of him. Kadri leads the team in assists by seven, and only Rantanen has scored more goals. He’s also averaging 19:11 of ice time per game, which he’s never come close to any other season.
Wedgewood Gives Avs Fits
As impressive as Colorado’s win streaks were, they were snapped by an unlikely source in Wedgewood. The Arizona goaltender stopped 38 shots on Tuesday and stymied Landeskog, Rantanen, and Kadri in the shootout. He was helped by the post on two of those attempts, but his best work was done hours earlier in the first period.
Colorado had scored a power-play goal in six straight games entering Tuesday’s tilt, and it looked like that streak was going to continue when the Coyotes couldn’t get out of their own way late in the first. Arizona took three penalties in the span of 2:12 late in the first, and the Avs had a chunk of more than 40 seconds of 5-on-3. But Wedgewood held fast, stopping seven shots over the final 2:33 of the period to keep the game scoreless heading into the second period.
It was just the fifth win of the season for Wedgewood, who was waived by the New Jersey Devils back in November. Wedgewood had only one other appearance against the Avalanche in his career, which came back in 2017-18. In that contest, he gave up three goals in roughly 26 minutes after relieving starter Antti Raanta as the Avs rolled to a 6-2 victory. Colorado’s next contest is on Feb. 10, when the Avalanche host the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
Lifelong storyteller and experienced hockey reporter that has covered everything from major juniors to the NHL. Worked for various newspapers across Minnesota and North Dakota, and now covering the Colorado Avalanche for THW.