Gabriel Landeskog’s career-high point streak came to an end Wednesday against Los Angeles, but he started a new one Friday with a performance worth every bit of the “C” on his left shoulder.
The Avalanche captain tied a career high in points with two assists and a dagger goal in the Avs’ 4-2 win against Phoenix, with the latter coming on the power play and righting Colorado’s ship after the Coyotes closed to within a goal with six minutes to play.
Landeskog’s nine-game streak ended against the Kings after he earlier this month became the first Avalanche player with two points streaks of at least eight games in the same season since Andrew Brunette did it in 2006-07.
He’s now got eyes on a third such stretch after scoring three points in a game Friday for the third time this season and fourth in his career.
Phoenix’s Shane Doan scored both of the Coyotes’ goals on the power play, with the second making it a 3-2 game at 13:58 of the third period.
Landeskog and the Avalanche, who led 3-1 early in the third period, responded with a power-play goal at 16:49 off a picture-perfect right-circle pass from rookie Nathan MacKinnon.
MacKinnon glided down the left side and brought the puck deep into the Coyotes’ zone before retreating toward the boards, quickly spinning back up ice and then flicking it about 60 feet behind him.
Landeskog was there to receive it. He took his time, loaded up and blistered it past netminder Thomas Greiss.
That was the game.
“I saw [Landeskog] coming from the bench, I think, and I got in a great position, and [defenseman] Tyson [Barrie] had a great pass,” said MacKinnon who finished with two assists and stretched his career-high and NHL rookie-leading points streak to 10 games.
“I try to get these feet to turn, and obviously with the good net drive from Pauly (Paul Stastny) and Tys, Landy got open. He’s not going to miss from there.”
Landeskog’s assists came early in the third period and helped the Avs break a 1-1 tie after both teams were scoreless in the second. His first helped Nate Guenin score the third goal of his career and first since March 2012 when he played for Anaheim. Landeskog's second apple was a juicy one, helping Stastny score the 23rd game-winner of his career.
It started with another MacKinnon speed push up the left side, but he didn’t retreat this time and instead threw the puck on Greiss, who made a save but couldn’t secure the rebound. It came to Landeskog along the blue line, and he quickly sent a centering pass back toward Stastny who had only empty net in front of him.
The line of Landeskog, Stastny and MacKinnon finished plus-six Friday.
“An outstanding play by Landy—wow,” Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. “That line had a lot of jump.”
“It definitely felt good,” Landeskog said before donning that figurative captain’s hat and dishing, instead of receiving, praise. “Nathan, he’s certainly come into his own, and he’s playing as well as what he has been doing all season. We are having fun out there.”
Goaltender Semyon Varlamov started Friday for the first time since the NHL’s Olympics break, and he finished with 40 saves to notch his sixth 40-plus saves performance this season.
He backed up Jean-Sebastien Giguere on Wednesday night after Roy chose to give Varlamov an extra day of rest after he made three starts for Russia in his hometown Olympics.
Varlamov adds to his career-high single-season wins total with each victory this year, and he’s now at 29-11-5 on the season. His 12 wins since Jan. 1 are the most in the NHL. Yet, there was some outside concern about Varlamov’s confidence level coming back from the 2014 Games, which were held in his hometown of Russia and saw his team finish without a medal.
Roy wasn't concerned.
“When I saw Varly after the Olympics, I saw a big smile on his face, and I knew he was ready to bounce back,” he said. “He was really well prepared for this game.
"The key was [giving] him a night off against L.A. Give him the time to feel really comfortable.”
» MacKinnon’s two assists gave him points in 10 straight games (five goals, nine assists), making him the first NHL rookie to record a 10-game point streak since Jonathan Toews did it from Oct. 10 to 31, 2007.
Stastny is the only other rookie in Avalanche history (since 1995-96) with a double-digit point streak after he set an NHL rookie record with points in 20 straight games in 2006-07.
MacKinnon’s current run is the longest of any NHL rookie this season, and he continues to be a leading candidate for this year’s Calder Trophy.
“I’m not really worried about it,” MacKinnon said Friday morning. “Maybe that’s why I’m getting points consecutively, because I’m not thinking about it too much. It’s important for me to continue thinking about the team and how we’re going to win, and hopefully I can be a part of it.”
» Defenseman Andre Benoit played in his 100th career NHL game, becoming the 17th active player on the Avalanche roster to appear in at least 100 career games. He joined Patrick Bordeleau (106 games) who reached the plateau Feb. 1 against Buffalo.
» PA Parenteau’s goal at 15:38 of the first period tied the game at 1-1 and was his second in as many games. That’s the fourth time this season he’s scored in consecutive games.
» Parenteau’s score came off assists from Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Duchene, giving O’Reilly 16 points since Jan. 11 and Duchene a three-game point streak and 15 points since Jan. 11.
» Forward Maxime Talbot was back in the lineup after missing Wednesday’s game and Thursday’s practice to be with his fiancée Cynthia Phaneuf in welcoming the couple’s first son. He logged 15:56 of ice time, including 4:12 on the Avs’ penalty kill unit.
“The best feeling in the world—It’s really exciting,” Talbot said Friday morning. “I’m really happy to have a little boy and excited to take him home.”
» Erik Johnson and Ryan Wilson were Colorado’s scratches Friday. It was Wilson’s 15th scratch this season, including his seventh in the past 10 games. Johnson didn’t dress in serving the second of a two-game suspension received following the Avs’ game against the Islanders on Feb. 8.
Paul Bissonnette, Chris Summers and David Rundblad sat for the Coyotes.
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