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Avalanche drop fifth in a row, 3-2 to Kings

The Avalanche’s New Year’s resolution will have to be finding a way to win games, particularly in overtime. The once hot club from Colorado has struggled to find its mojo, as evidenced by Monday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the visiting Los Angeles Kings.

The Avs have now lost five straight contests, including two in overtime, to limp out of 2018.

“You got to find a way to close out the games,” head coach Jared Bednar said after the loss. “It could be the difference between getting in the playoffs and not getting into the playoffs. It’s big points.”

Colorado is now 1-8 in overtime, and it seems that mental mistakes have been the culprit in nearly all of those losses.

(Click here for boxscore.)

“What bothers me is you look at the goals that we’ve given up in overtime, sometimes it’s mind blowing,” Bednar admitted. “There’s always someone making a major mistake and it ends up in the back of the net.”

Monday’s mistake happened to belong to Mikko Rantanen, who changed so slowly that Gabriel Landeskog wasn’t on the ice fast enough to prevent a Dustin Brown breakaway.

Brown scored 54 seconds in to seal the 3-2 loss.

“We’re going to win or lose with those top guys on the ice, and they’re going to have to buy in. There’s nowhere to hide. You make a mistake or you let someone go in behind you, the chances are they’re going to score,” Bednar said. “You can’t poach passes. You can’t hope for offense. If you want offense, go steal the puck from someone, outwork them, and then go to work in the other end.”

Not content to sleepwalk into the New Year, the Avalanche turned on the jets in the final frame, erasing a two-goal deficit with tallies from Nathan MacKinnon and Carl Soderberg.

Rantanen and MacKinnon connected 32 seconds into the period make it a 2-1 contest, the duo finally finding a way to solve the otherwise brilliant Jonathan Quick for MacKinnon’s 24th goal of the season. Then Soderberg become the hero Denver needed when he tipped a Tyson Barrie point shot with his foot to tie the game.

Yet flashes of brilliance quickly become flashes in the pan for Colorado, as seen so often in December, the loss erasing the goodwill of the comeback effort faster than a New Year’s kiss.

“I think we played pretty good in the third period,” Soderberg said. “We’re down two goals, but we came back strong. But we really need to find a way to win hockey games now. We’re trying. We’re trying hard…”

Colorado’s troubles began at the end of the first period when defenseman Barrie took a lazy tripping penalty with three seconds remaining in the frame.

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