NHL Hockey

Avalanche aim to get back on track vs. Ducks

After just missing out on taking the wild-card lead in the Western Conference on Friday night, the Colorado Avalanche will take another crack at the playoff chase Sunday afternoon at Anaheim against the Ducks.

The Avs were left thinking about all the chances that got away Friday at San Jose in a 4-3 defeat to the Sharks. Colorado scored twice in the final period, but it was the first two periods where the game got away.

The defeat ended the Avs' six-game points streak. Colorado had outscored their opponents 29-9 during the run, but that offense could not get going early against the Sharks, the second-best team in the Western Conference.

"We weren't good enough for 40 minutes," head coach Jared Bednar said, according to nhl.com. "Third period, we were hungry, we were getting pucks to the net, taking pucks to the net. We had a better intent to shoot the puck and get traffic there."

At least the Ducks know what to look for out of the Avalanche come Sunday.

"We have to have the chip on our shoulder right away, right off the bat," said Colorado's Mikko Rantanen, who scored his career-best 13th power-play goal on Friday.

The Ducks could use any tipoff in strategy they can get, but it might not be enough. It has been a rough season for a team that last won a Stanley Cup title in 2007 and last made the playoffs in 2017-18 when they lost in the first round.

At 24-32-9 (57 points), only the Los Angeles Kings are worse in the Western Conference. The Ducks' points total is better than just three teams in the entire league.

Head coach Randy Carlyle was already fired last month and general manager Bob Murray's decision to become the interim head man through the end of the season has merely given him a front-row seat to a team that has scored an NHL-worst 142 goals, with an NHL-worst minus-60 goal differential.

The latest offensive stumble came in a 3-0 defeat to the Las Vegas Knights on Friday. The Ducks will enter Sunday on a five-game losing streak, while scoring one goal or less in 11 of their last 16 games.

Like the Sharks on Friday night, the Ducks talked about the chances that got away in their most recent defeat. But that has been a continuing trend. The Ducks have talked about missed opportunities for some time now.

"We're getting more chances, and we're eliminating teams' chances, but they're not going in," Ducks winger Nick Ritchie said, according to nhl.com. "Some of that is luck, but it's also bearing down and putting the puck in. A lot of teams are doing that, and we're not."

The Ducks did see the return of All-Star goaltender John Gibson on Friday after he had missed time with multiple injuries. Center Ryan Getzlaf has missed the last five games with an upper-body injury. Goaltender Chad Johnson (head) is day-to-day.

For the Avalanche, both left wing Matt Nieto (lower body) and center Vladislav Kamenev (shoulder) are out indefinitely.

--Field Level Media

Updated March 2, 2019

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