The Avalanche will try to give their offense a jumpstart when they face the Anaheim Ducks on Friday, one night after Colorado endured a late-game breakdown against the Los Angeles Kings.
The Friday game will be the first of consecutive contests between the Avalanche and Ducks, both at Anaheim. The second is set for Sunday.
The Avalanche appeared in control with an early two-goal lead on the road Thursday against the Kings, but they could not solve the Los Angeles defense from there. The Kings scored two power-play goals in the second period and added two more goals in the final four minutes of the game for the victory.
After arriving in Southern California following an 8-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 15, the Avalanche had two consecutive games at Los Angeles in which they were outplayed late. They jumped on top 3-0 on Tuesday, then gave up two third-period goals but held on for a 3-2 victory. Without a cushion to lean on Thursday, the Avalanche were unable to overcome another late rush by the Kings.
Nathan MacKinnon scored a goal Thursday and added his fifth assist. Mikko Rantanen collected his third goal in the past three games and notched an assist as well. MacKinnon had five shots, giving him one in 224 consecutive games, three short of Joe Sakic’s club record.
Colorado defenseman Bowen Byram made his NHL debut Thursday at age 19 and played 11 minutes while goaltender Hunter Miska made his first career start, recording 23 saves. Miska’s only other appearance came in November 2018 when he played 18 minutes for the Arizona Coyotes.
“They both played well,” Avalanche captain Gabe Landeskog said. “(Byram), he looked calm and he was making some good plays and jumping into the rush on a few opportunities. And Miska, I thought he looked calm and made some big stops there but they got some power-play chances and that created momentum their way.”
The Ducks, who have been scuffling, will enter off a 3-2 defeat against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday. Anaheim did defeat the Wild 1-0 on Monday for its one and only victory so far in four games.
On Wednesday, the Ducks were able to wipe away Minnesota’s early 2-0 lead on second-period goals from Nicolas Delauriers and Cam Fowler, but the Wild got the game winner early in the third period from Joel Eriksson Ek.
Veteran Anaheim goaltender Ryan Miller had 29 saves in his season debut Wednesday, but John Gibson is expected to be back in goal Friday.
The Ducks’ top two lines are struggling. Dependable contributors such as Sonny Milano, Rickard Rakell, Adam Henrique and Jakob Silfverberg all have been held without a point. Captain Ryan Getzlaf has one assist. Max Contois leads Anaheim with three goals from the third line.
“They need to be very, very good each and every night,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said of his players. “We’ve already talked this season about accountability. We have to win. If you’re not going to play up to your standards or up to what your expectation is, sometimes you might find yourself (on the bench).”
The Ducks learned Thursday that defenseman Josh Manson will miss six weeks with an oblique injury that occurred during a fight with Minnesota’s Jordan Greenway on Monday.
–Field Level Media