GLENDALE, Ariz. – Before the Avalanche faced the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night, Colorado coach Jared Bednar praised his goaltender, Calvin Pickard.
Bednar said Pickard could secure victories for Colorado, as long as the offense in front of him could produce. Hours later, Pickard made 34 saves against the Coyotes, including sprawling grabs and clutch stops on rebounds. But his strong game came in a 1-0 Colorado loss at Gila River Arena.
The Avalanche was shut out for the 12th time this season. With 14 games remaining, that already has tied the franchise record, set in 2008-09.
Mike Smith had to make only 22 saves to post his third shutout of the season for the Coyotes, and 20-year-old Arizona winger Brendan Perlini’s second-period goal was the only score of the game.
The Avs haven’t wasted many strong goaltending performances in this horrible season of frequent blowout losses, but that was the case Monday night.
“It was right there for us,” Pickard said quietly. “But you’ve got to give them (the Coyotes) credit as well, they played a great game.”
Semyon Varlamov, signed through 2018-19 with an annual cap hit of $5.9 million, hasn’t played since Jan. 17 and underwent season-ending hip surgery on Jan. 26. His backup and now No. 1, Pickard, has been up and down, but has managed two shutouts. The offense in front of him has scored the fewest goals of any team in the NHL, while only Winnipeg has allowed more goals than Colorado.
As Bednar has changed his lines – most recently moving center Matt Duchene on a line with Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen – the offense is still looking for a spark.
The Avalanche also went 0-for-3 on the power play on Monday.
“I thought we passed up on some shots, but I think we had 24 misses, 12 in the first period. That’s too many,” Bednar said after the game. “On some of the looks we had, looking through them in intermissions, we just missed our opportunities.”
The beginning of the first period looked hopeful for the Avalanche, gifted with a four-minute power play when Coyotes defenseman Anthony DeAngelo took two penalties on the same play at 4:33. Colorado mustered three shots on that advantage, but failed to score.
At 8:49, Duchene was called for interference. The Avalanche killed that penalty.
The first period ended without a goal, and neither team got a shot on goal in the last 9:14 of play.
In the second, Perlini fired a wrist-shot past Pickard. Perlini’s goal was his 13th of the season, assisted by Peter Holland and Tobias Reider.
Arizona outshot the Avalanche 19-7 in that second period alone.
“We missed the net on too many of our good chances, especially the first period,” Bednar said. “I felt like all of our best chances we missed on, and then when we got some good chances and good looks as the game went on, Smith was good in goal.”
In the third, the Avalanche had one power play opportunity when right wing Radim Vrbata was called for tripping, but Colorado failed to score.
“It’s a tough one, because I thought we were doing some good things offensively tonight,” Bednar said. “Especially, we had a good shot mentality for the most part. But you’ve got to find a way to capitalize on some of those opportunities.”
Bednar added that he wasn’t sure of how his forward lines would shake up moving forward, but that he was pleased with his most recent arrangement on Monday.
The Avalanche play the Detroit Red Wings at home on Wednesday night.
The Avalanche also announced Monday that it recalled defenseman Anton Lindholm from the San Antonio Rampage. The 22-year-old Swede, Colorado’s fifth-round draft choice in 2014, has two goals and 10 assists in 59 games in the AHL this season. He’ll join the team Tuesday and likely play his first NHL game Wednesday.