The Vancouver Canucks’ fast start hit a bump in the road their last time out. A matchup with the struggling Colorado Avalanche could be what they need to get back on track, though the Canucks will also be looking for some payback.
After their four-game winning streak ended, the Canucks open a tough four-game trip Tuesday night against the Avalanche, who earned a lopsided home victory over Vancouver two weeks ago.
Vancouver (8-4-0) failed to score at least three goals for the first time in eight games Sunday and lost 3-1 to Nashville. Alex Edler gave the Canucks the lead with a power-play goal in the first period, but the Predators held a 22-13 shot advantage in the final 40 minutes and got two goals from rookie Filip Forsberg.
A busy schedule may have caught up to Vancouver, which was playing for the second straight day and third time in four, but the club’s captain insisted that wasn’t the case.
“I thought we were fresh, I didn’t think that was a problem for us. We kept our shifts short, it was there for us to win. We just didn’t score on our chances and they did,” Henrik Sedin said.
The loss could prove to be considerably more costly after defenseman Kevin Bieksa left after taking a puck in the eye. Coach Willie Desjardins didn’t give an injury update, but Bieksa was seen leaving the arena with a doctor.
Enforcer Tom Sestito also suffered a lower-body injury and was seen on crutches.
Vancouver has called up prized prospect Bo Horvat from Utica of the AHL, and the 6-foot, 206-pound center is likely to make his NHL debut Tuesday. Horvat was the ninth overall draft pick in 2013.
Colorado is last in the Central Division, but the rest of the Canucks’ trip is filled out by matchups with San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim. The contests against the Kings and Ducks are Saturday and Sunday.
In addition, Vancouver didn’t do too well in its first meeting of the season with the Avalanche, falling 7-3 on Oct. 24 as Colorado scored four times in the third period. The loss was the Canucks’ third straight in the series and fourth in five matchups.
The Avs (3-5-5), though, continue struggling to find their division-winning form of 2013-14, falling 3-2 to Anaheim on Sunday to give them a 1-1-3 mark in their last five. Colorado has scored two or fewer goals four times in that span.
“It’s not always going to go our way, and it’s when things are not going our way we try to force plays, push plays,” coach Patrick Roy said. “This is where we get into trouble.”
The Avalanche were outshot 12-2 in the second period and 33-18 overall, and couldn’t capitalize on a 6-on-4 power play late in the game.
“Obviously we’re going to need more from some of our guys. We’re going to need more consistency, especially from our forwards,” Roy told the team’s official website. “Everybody’s talking a lot about our ‘D,’ but I think we have some forwards that are capable of giving a little more to the team.”
One of them probably isn’t reigning rookie of the year Nathan MacKinnon, who scored Sunday to give him four goals in three games after starting the season in a slump.
The Avalanche also continued their flawless penalty killing, denying the Ducks five times to stretch their streak to 25 kills.