Colorado Avalanche Hit Rock Bottom, Set Franchise Losing Streak

James CriderCorrespondent IFebruary 13, 2011

NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 12:  Goalie Peter Budaj #31 of the Colorado Avalanche lays on the ice as Steve Sullivan #26 of the Nashville Predators celebrates the go ahead goal on February 12, 2011 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

In an attempt to spark the desperate Avalanche, head coach Joe Sacco benched right wing Chris Stewart, the Avalanche's leading goal scorer from a year ago, and for the first period didn't give a single shift to veteran defenseman John-Michael Liles, who leads all Avalanche defensemen with 35 points.

Surprisingly, neither move could propel the rest of the Avalanche's players, as the team fell 4-3 to the Nashville Predators on Saturday night, giving them their seventh consecutive loss.

In their last 10 games, the Avalanche are 1-9-0.

The Avalanche came out of the gate slowly, getting outshot 10-4 in the first period and eventually 38-18 over the course of the game.

To make up for the slack of Liles' first-period absence and the easing into the lineup of rookie defenseman Cameron Gaunce, who was making his NHL debut, Sacco rode defensemen Ryan O'Byrne and Ryan Wilson for most of the night.

O'Byrne saw over 24 minutes of ice time, while Wilson—a frequent healthy scratch of late—saw nearly 26 minutes, the most of any player on either team.

Despite being pinned in their zone for the whopping majority of the game, the Avalanche kept the game to a 3-3 until late in the third thanks to goals from Kevin Porter, David Jones and Matt Duchene.

However, a Daniel Winnik turnover at the Avalanche's blue line—a play that will almost certainly have him watching from the press box next game, despite a strong game and overall season—led to Cody Franson's go-ahead goal.

David Legwand would eventually add an empty net goal.

The loss combined with a Minnesota Wild win put the Avalanche nine points behind the eighth-place Wild. The club currently sits 14th in the Western Conference, and 24th overall in the NHL.