Mikkel Boedker is grateful for an opportunity to compete for a playoff spot, though the Colorado Avalanche have some work to do to achieve one.
The slumping Avalanche hope to rectify their recent problems in an important home game Monday night against Boedker's former team, the Arizona Coyotes.
Colorado (33-30-4) believed it had bolstered its postseason chances by landing Boedker, one of the top available forwards, in a four-player trade with the Coyotes at last Monday's deadline. While the move added another threat to an already capable offense, it hasn't solved the team's continuing defensive issues or its struggles to close out games.
The Avalanche let a one-goal lead slip away in Saturday's potentially damaging 5-2 home loss to Nashville that dropped them to ninth place in the Western Conference. They allowed four unanswered third-period goals and have been outscored 11-1 in the final frame during a 1-3-0 stretch.
"I thought we played really well for 40 minutes, again," coach Patrick Roy said. "Our third periods need to be better. We need to be smarter in the third period. We have to learn to play those situations much better."
Colorado has surrendered five goals or more in all four losses of a 2-4-0 sequence, during which Semyon Varlamov's play has regressed. The usually dependable goaltender has permitted 11 goals over his past three starts and been pulled in two of his last five.
Calvin Pickard provided greater stability with a 38-save effort in Thursday's 3-2 win over Florida that opened this four-game homestand. He followed with 35 against the Predators but allowed two costly goals in the third before two empty-netters.
Boedker has a goal and an assist in three games since the trade, though he's been outdone by one of the players Colorado gave up for his services. Alex Tanguay scored twice and added an assist in his Arizona debut, helping his new club snap a season-high seven-game skid with Saturday's 5-1 rout of reeling Florida.
After being scratched for the first two games following the trade, Tanguay flourished on a line with Antoine Vermette and Anthony Duclair that accounted for three goals. Arizona had just eight total over its previous six.
''We had a good mix out there. We had a couple of good practices,'' said Vermette, who matched a career high with four points. ''You want to translate that into a game. (Tanguay's) a smart guy. He's been through a lot, a lot of experience. He won a Cup also. He's a good passer, smart player.''
Tanguay drew into the lineup with Max Domi serving a one-game suspension for instigating a fight near the end of Thursday's 5-1 loss to Anaheim.
Louis Domingue provided a further boost with 32 saves. The rookie had a 4.04 goals-against average in losing his six prior starts.
Arizona begins a four-game trip and has dropped eight straight on the road, though it's won both matchups with the Avalanche this season. Boedker had a hand in each, scoring the deciding goal in a 2-1 overtime victory at the Pepsi Center on Dec. 27 and notching two assists in a 4-2 home win on Nov. 5.
Shane Doan had a power-play goal Saturday but the Coyotes are just 3 of 29 in man-advantage situations over an eight-game stretch. Colorado has killed 26 of 27 penalties over nine games since Feb. 14, the NHL's best percentage during that span.