Paul Stastny and Gabe Landeskog had combined to score just five points through the Avalanche’s first five games this season, and all those points had come on assists
Assists are nice, of course—they only result when your team has scored, after all—but Colorado’s captain (Landeskog) and alternate captain (Stastny) were looking for a higher level of production.
Consider that internal struggle a thing of the past.
Stastny scored a pair of goals Friday night—including hitting the game winner for the second straight game—and Landeskog found the back of the net, too, in the Avalanche’s 3-2 win in Dallas’ American Airlines Center.
Colorado improved to 11-1-0, matching its best start to a season in franchise history (Quebec Nordiques, 11-1-0, 1994-95) and 6-0-0 on the road, tying its 2011 start, when it also won its first six away from Pepsi Center.
The play of late from Landeskog and Stastny is a big reason for the historic run.
Stastny’s two points Friday gave him four goals in Colorado’s past five games and nine points overall in Colorado’s past eight, and Landeskog’s score gave him four goals and seven points in the Avs’ past six games.
Landeskog took a nice near-blueline, no-look pass from Nathan MacKinnon and let fly from 37 feet, sending the puck past Dallas netminder Kari Lehtonen.
Stastny’s first goal Friday was a first-period snapshot just outside the crease and came off slick passes from Jan Hejda and Alex Tanguay. His second score was a breakaway in the Dallas zone that ended with another snapper from about 30 feet, through a Stars defenseman Jamie Benn and over Lehtonen’s shoulder.
“That goal,” Stastny said, “Use the [defense] as a screen and put it on net, you never know what’s going to happen.”
“Lehtonen had no chance on that one—it was a perfect shot right over the shoulder,” Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy added.
The Avalanche killed off two Dallas power-play opportunities Friday, extending its successful penalty-killing streak to a season-long 20 and improving on an already NHL-leading penalty-kill percentage.
Colorado came into the game at 92.3 percent in penalty-kill rate and will head into tomorrow night’s home game against Montreal at 92.7 percent,
Dallas (5-6-2) tied the game at 2-2 with 3:29 to play in the third period, and Landeskog and the Stars’ Alex Chiasson got into a scrap at the midline during the ensuing faceoff. Both drew five-minute penalties for fighting, and Landeskog also got two minutes for instigating.
The latter penalty gave Dallas a power play that lasted nearly the rest of regulation, but Colorado killed it off and got the game into overtime.
“I thought we buzzed on the power play in the first and the third,” Roy said.
Nick Holden and Max Talbot skated for the first time Friday night in Avalanche sweaters, but each player is in a drastically different place in their careers.
Holden was making his fifth appearance in an NHL game after signing with the Avalanche as a free agent in July; Talbot was skating for the 516th time after being acquired Thursday morning in a trade with Philadelphia.
"It's a dream of mine to play in the NHL, and for them to give me the opportunity—even though I haven't played yet—obviously is a dream come true," Holden said of being with the Avalanche. "It’s a great honor to play in the NHL. I know I would get my opportunity sooner or later, and Patrick kept telling me that. I kept working hard and doing whatever I could in practice to help the team win."
Holden had four minutes and 39 seconds of ice time in the win, while Talbot had 17:36, including 2:29 of shorthanded time, which was a big reason he was brought over Thursday.
“[Talbot] was great on PK—him and [Marc-Andre] Cliche together,” Roy said. “Cliche blocked a lot of shots, and Talbot was a great fit. I think [Talbot’s] going to be great for Nate [MacKinnon]. You see in the second, he was talking to him, and I thought Nate, it was easier for him [tonight].”
“Big ‘Foote’ is a beauty. He deserves it. He’s a warrior. When you think of him you think of the Avs—you think of the big foot, on the shoulder. What a smart player. Underrated is what I would say when I played with him, offensively. Everyone knows what he can do defensively, but offensively he sees the ice as good as anyone. He’s always a constant teacher. My first year playing with him until my third or fourth year he was always constantly teaching, doing whatever he could for the team to win.”
- Stastny on former Colorado defenseman Adam Foote, who will become Saturday night the ninth player in Avalanche/Nordiques history to have his jersey number retired.
“It was [an] outstanding performance from our team. The first period should never have finished 1-0. We should have been up at least 3-0. Lehtonen was outstanding. He might want to get the second goal back, but I think the reason why they picked up the [overtime loss] point was because of him. He kept them in the game long enough for them to come back in the third, because it could have been a three, four, five-nothing game at some point.”
“It’s hard to predict at that time saying we’d be 11-1, but at the same time the attitude we wanted to have was to take it one game at a time and give ourselves a chance to win every night. Right now we’re playing very good. We played solid hockey. The thing that I like is before games we’re always really well prepared and focused, and on the ice we have good starts, and that’s what we want.”
- Patrick Roy on his team’s play Friday and this season
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