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Avs face Knights, aim to bounce back from drubbing

The Colorado Avalanche will look to rebound from arguably their worst loss of their season when they visit the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday afternoon.

With second place in the Central Division and home ice for the first round of the playoffs on the line, the Avalanche allowed four goals in the first period en route to a 7-0 shellacking by the visiting Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.

Winnipeg (50-24-6, 106 points), which holds the regulation-wins tiebreaker, needs to win just one of its final two games, at home against Seattle and Vancouver, to finish in second place. The Jets then would hold home-ice advantage over Colorado (49-25-6, 104 points) in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

As for the Avalanche, they stumble into Sin City having lost six of their last nine games (3-5-1).

Saturday's 7-0 loss to the Jets particularly was troubling considering the game had so much riding on it for the playoffs. Colorado is 30-9-1 at home this season, the best such mark in the NHL.

"We're going to have to remember it," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "We're going to have to learn from it. Study it, understand it, because we're going to have to be a lot better than that."

Bednar was asked if his team's performance was disappointing and concerning with the playoffs just around the corner.

"All of the above," he replied.

Defenseman Devon Toews also didn't mince words.

"That's embarrassing, in our own building, to lose 7-0 in a game that means a lot for both teams, especially us," Toews said. "We put on a poor performance for our fans. Now it's going to be a little more difficult. Probably going to have start out on the road. That's the way it looks now. We had an opportunity to get home ice. We didn't show up."

Ironically, it was the second time this season Colorado was blanked 7-0. The first came Nov. 4 to the Golden Knights in Las Vegas.

"It's no time to hold your head," Avs center Andrew Cogliano said. "You've got to find solutions. You've got to dig in and be better. It starts competitively. It starts physicality-wise."

The Avalanche need only to look at Vegas to see how quickly things can change.

The Golden Knights (43-28-8, 94 points) limped into Friday night's home game with Minnesota on a three-game losing streak and off one of their poorest performances of the season, a 5-1 loss at Edmonton on Wednesday. But it was all smiles in the Vegas locker room at practice on Saturday, one day after the team posted a 7-2 win over the Wild that clinched the final playoff berth in the Western Conference.

"It feels good," center Nicolas Roy said. "We're part of the dance now. We battled a lot this year with all the injuries and everything that happened. It's fun to be in. Now we have three more games to prepare for it. The best time of the year is coming."

The Golden Knights find themselves three points behind third-place Los Angeles in the Pacific Division and five points in back of Nashville for the top wild-card spot in the conference. Vegas occupies the last wild-card spot in the West and likely will face Central Division leader Dallas in the opening round.

"We just want to keep building," Vegas forward Keegan Kolesar said. "Obviously we punched our ticket to the dance, which is the first part. After that you want to be playing your best hockey going into it."

--Field Level Media

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