NHL

Avalanche is on a 17-3-1 tear, despite poor penalty killing. A new PK plan on tap

Minus top-line winger Gabe Landeskog, who was placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol absence list after his second positive test, the Avalanche on Monday will look for its fifth consecutive victory when it plays Seattle.

But besides the Landeskog setback, all is not merry with the league’s winningest team since Nov. 11 (17-3-1).

Avs coach Jared Bednar is unhappy with his penalty-killing units and said “major changes” will unfold against Seattle.

Colorado, which is hosting the expansion Kraken for the first time, has allowed a power-play goal in five consecutive games and has slid to 28th in the 32-team league at 73.1% for the season. Pittsburgh leads the league with a 90.1% PK, and 15 other teams are above 80.0%.

The Toronto Maple Leafs scored on their only power play in the Avs’ 5-4 overtime win on Saturday.

“Not good enough. It hasn’t been good enough throughout the lineup and the guys that are playing it. Just not good enough,” Bednar said after the morning skate. “So, major changes.”

He added that both personnel and structure will look different against the Kraken. The typical killers are forwards Tyson Jost, Logan O’Connor, Darren Helm, J.T. Compher and Nicolas Aube-Kubel and defensemen Erik Johnson, Jack Johnson and Ryan Murray. Blueliners Cale Makar, Sam Girard and Bo Byram are also used at times.

The Avs have had just one perfect PK outing in a 12-game span, going 2-for-2 against the New York Rangers on Dec. 14. The previous perfect kill was Dec. 1 at Toronto, also 2-for-2.

Footnotes. Murray is scheduled to be a healthy scratch as Jack Johnson returns from a two-game injury stint. Winger Valeri Nichushkin is also slated to return after missing the last four games to an injury. … Goalie Pavel Francouz will make his second start and third appearance of the season. He got the win on Saturday after replacing Darcy Kuemper and inheriting a 3-0 deficit. Kuemper is the scheduled starter Tuesday at Nashville as Colorado completes the first of two consecutive-night stretches this week. The Avs are also scheduled to begin a home-and-away set with the Arizona Coyotes on Friday. However, Arizona added four players and two coaches on the COVID protocol list on Monday, so it’s possible those games could get postponed.

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