Caps beat Avs in OT, Colorado loses 5th consecutive game
By STEPHEN WHYNO
AP Hockey Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - The 48 seconds in overtime remaining on the clock in the visiting dressing room served as a reminder of how close the Colorado Avalanche got.
But close isn't much consolation after a 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday night extended their skid to five games. And neither was the point the Avalanche salvaged because the defeats keep piling up as their season snowballs out of control.
"It's a big point," captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "But at this point, we're looking for wins, not points."
Colorado has lost 10 of 12 and is the NHL's worst team since Dec. 7. Colorado is 5-15-4 in that time, going from tied for the most points in the Western Conference to out of a playoff position.
Colin Wilson's tying goal with 2:07 left was worth a single point to get the Avalanche to 14 since Dec. 7, still the lowest total in the league. When Evgeny Kuznetsov was left all alone for a breakaway and scored on Semyon Varlamov with 48 seconds left, Colorado fell to 1-8 in overtime this season.
"Again the OT, I don't know what's wrong with us," said top-line winger Mikko Rantanen, who scored his 24th goal of the season. "Always we give up one breakaway and usually it's in the back of the net. I don't know. It's tough to say right after the loss what's the problem."
There are a lot of problems right now for the Avalanche, who have allowed 24 goals during their five-game skid. Varlamov struggled to control rebounds and loose pucks all night against his former team, allowing four goals on 42 shots.
Varlamov and teammate Philipp Grubauer have the two worst save percentages in the NHL over the past two months.
Washington's Pheonix Copley allowed soft goals to Nathan MacKinnon and Wilson, but won his first start since Jan. 15 by making 34 saves. Andre Burakovsky, Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen scored in regulation for the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals, who have won two in a row since losing eight of nine.
"Things are going to happen that don't go your way," coach Todd Reirden said of a quick whistle and a lost challenge that didn't go the Capitals' way against Colorado. "But we stayed with our game plan. Frustration was at a very low level on our bench. And that's what top teams do, is you find ways to get points when things aren't going our way."
Not much is going the Avalanche's way right now, but coach Jared Bednar saw a lot of positives in his team's game Thursday. One positive is that despite all the losing, they're still in striking distance in a mediocre playoff race in the West with 29 games remaining.
"We've certainly been addressing some of the negatives in our game and the things we have to improve on and we'll do it again, but there's also a lot of good," Bednar said. "We've got to build."
NOTES: A moment of silence was held before the game for Orioles great and former Nationals manager Frank Robinson, who died at age 83. ... Grubauer was honored with a first-period video tribute after playing parts of six seasons with the Capitals and helping them win the Cup last year. ... LW A.J. Greer replaced Gabriel Bourque in Colorado's lineup after being recalled Wednesday. ... Capitals D Madison Bowey played his first game since Jan. 23.
Avalanche: Make their second stop on an Eastern Conference road trip Saturday at the New York Islanders.
Capitals: Continue their six-game homestand Saturday against the Florida Panthers.
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