It took a little longer than Paul Stastny would have liked, but his first goal of the season could not have come at a more crucial moment.
With the game tied 3-3 and with the Colorado Avalanche on the power play, Stastny picked up the puck behind the Calgary Flames net and swooped it around the goalpost and under the pad of Miikka Kiprusoff for the score and silenced the 19,289 in attendance at the Scotiabank Saddledome in the process.
Stastny admitted after the game that in the past he would have passed the puck in that situation, but with the team looking to break a three-game losing streak the assistant captain stepped up and did it himself.
“I think it was a long time coming,” said Stastny on his winning goal after the game. “The simplest form is to take the puck to the net.”
The tally came with 2:40 remaining and eight seconds into Colorado’s second power play opportunity of the night.
Stastny didn’t have to wait too long to pick up his second tally of the season as he gave Colorado a 5-3 lead with 1:11 left to play. After receiving a pass from Stastny, John Mitchell took a shot that was blocked in front by Calgary’s Dennis Wideman, but the puck deflected back to Stastny, who tapped it in from 10 feet out.
While he wasn’t the only one on the team in a scoring slump, Stastny was struggling to get points in the first six games of the season as he had only one assist.
But the center patiently waited for his opportunities in game No. 7 of the year and scored on two of the three shots he took.
“I think Paul can hopefully relax a little bit now and just play his game,” said head coach Joe Sacco. “It was just a matter of time before Paul would get going. That’s big for our team. We need Paul going offensively for us.”
Stastny also showed that he had a little grit in his game as he delivered a pair of hits and blocked two shots in the contest with the Flames.
“Give credit to Paul, he stayed with it,” said teammate PA Parenteau. “He hadn’t had a goal yet this season, but he played a great game defensively and he finally got rewarded late in the game.”
Three Is A Party
Both players also added an assist in the game to complete three-point nights and tie career highs.
It was the fifth time in Parenteau’s career that he had three points in the game, while it marked only the second for Mitchell, who last accomplished the feat with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 1, 2008 against the New York Rangers.
Mitchell’s first goal tied the game at 1-1 with less than a minute left in the first period and ignited some more energy into the Avalanche. He scored after intercepting the puck at the right-wing wall, crossing towards the slot and releasing a shot over the right shoulder of Kiprusoff and just under the top left corner of the crossbar.
His second goal came with 3:02 left in the middle stanza on a snap shot in front after receiving a feed from Chuck Kobasew behind the net.
“It’s always nice when you can score goals and get on the scoresheet,” Mitchell said. “But at the same time I want to go out there and do the other things that help win games.”
The “other things” that Mitchell did included two hits, a takeaway and a blocked shot.
Like Mitchell’s first, Parenteau’s first score of the night tied the game and showed the team’s resiliency to bounce back. Calgary had scored to retake the lead 1:49 into the second period, but Parenteau grabbed a pass from Jamie McGinn in-between the circles and backhanded the puck into the back of the cage.
“I tried to get it off as quick as I can and surprise him (Flames goalie Miika Kiprusoff),” he said of his first goal. “It worked.”
Parenteau scored his second on a long shot into an empty net with 48 seconds remaining, sealing the Colorado victory.
Both players are now 1-2 on the team in goals with Parenteau netting five and Mitchell four.
In his first start of the season, goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 25 saves and had a couple big ones early and late to keep the Avs in the game.
His first big stop came on a rush with 3:15 left in the first period after a shot from the point was tipped, went off the post and was laying in the crease for the taking before Giguere fell on his back to smother it and keep the Colorado deficit, at the time, at 1-0.
In the third, he made a falling-forward save on a hard shot by Dennis Wideman at the circle. That save kept the score tied at 3-3 and gave the Avalanche the chance to win the game minutes later
“When we needed a big save, he came up with it,” Joe Sacco said of his goaltender.
Another player that had an important role in the Avalanche victory was center Matt Duchene, who had two assists for his second multi-point game of the season.
You could probably give him a third one as well as he forced a Flames penalty late in the game, which allowed Paul Stastny to score the go-ahead goal moments later.
Duchene drove hard to the Calgary net before being tripped up in the slot by Mark Giordano at 17:12 of the third.
Duchene’s two assists give him five helpers for the year and ties him with Parenteau for the scoring lead with seven points overall.
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