Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie has a flair for the dramatic when the game is on the line.
Barrie picked up his third overtime goal of the season Thursday night as he scored 55 seconds into the extra period to give Colorado a 3-2 victory against the Vancouver Canucks.
Barrie's three OT goals tie the franchise single-season record set by David Jones in 2010-11 and are the most by a Avalanche/Nordiques defenseman in a single season, topping the previous mark of two set by Greg de Vries in 2002-03.
His other overtime-winning goals were Jan. 8 versus Ottawa and Jan. 14 at Chicago.
Barrie now has four career overtime winners, extending his franchise record for a defenseman, and he said after his latest tally that the feeling of ending a game with your goal doesn't get old.
"No, definitely not. It is definitely exciting, and it always feels really good," Barrie said. "I don't know what it is. I must just be getting lucky to get some passes from guys in OT."
He is the first NHL defenseman to score three overtime goals in one season since Atlanta’s Dustin Byfuglien did it in 2010-11. Barrie and Byfuglien are the only defenders to accomplish the feat since 2008-09.
The winner against the Canucks came after Matt Duchene drew two players to him at the left wall, cut back twice, and found a passing lane to Barrie in front of the crease. Barrie was able to chip the puck over Vancouver goalie Eddie Lack's shoulder and into the top right corner of the net.
"I saw [Duchene] there and [Ryan O'Reilly] there and I kind of got broken up," Barrie said. "I saw two guys went to Dutchy so I thought I might as well stay in front of the net. Dutchy made a great pass to me and I was fortunate enough to get a tip up over him.”
The tally was Barrie's 10th of the season, which is the most by an Avs blue liner this year and the most since 2008-09 when John-Michael Liles had 12.
However, the goal wouldn't have been possible without a great pass by Duchene, who scored earlier in the game and now has 70 points in 2013-14.
"That was a great play by Dutchy in the corner," Avs coach Patrick Roy said. "He danced really well on that one, really good tight turns, bringing it in front of the net and Tyson was all alone in front of the net. [Barrie] put a pretty good shot over the shoulder of the goalie."
Duchene agreed with his coach on how good Barrie's shot was.
"I can't believe the shot he made," Duchene said. "That was outstanding. I didn't think he would be able to score from there. That was a heck of a goal."
After a slow start, Barrie has put together a nice 2013-14 campaign. He began the year by playing in only five of the first 13 games before being sent to Lake Erie. He was recalled from the Avalanche's AHL affiliate Nov. 17 and has never looked back, picking up 31 of his 32 points in the 51 games since his stint in Cleveland.
His success this season has come from Roy encouraging him and the rest of the defensemen to jump into the rush, but Barrie's play has definitely stood out. Roy compared Barrie after the game to Avs great Sandis Ozolinsh, who holds the franchise record for the most career goals by a defenseman with 72.
"He reminds me of Ozolinsh in his prime," Roy said of Barrie. "He was jumping in the rush, he was gambling a few times, but we have a team that allows our 'D' to gamble and Tyson took advantage."
Barrie has certainly taken advantage of the opportunities in overtime this season, and there might not be another player in the league that is more clutch in the extra period than he is.
"He's got ice water in his veins," Duchene said. "He's been outstanding for us this year. We knew he was capable of doing stuff like this, and I think he did too. He's been everything he can be this year. It's awesome to watch."
JOHNSON HEALHY ENOUGH, PLAYS IN GAME 400
After falling ill Thursday morning, defenseman Erik Johnson was healthy enough to be in the Avalanche's lineup against the Canucks that night.
Johnson missed morning skate because of the flu, and Roy said he would be questionable for that evening's game.
"We'll know more [later]," Roy said in the morning. "He didn't feel too good this morning. He had a bit of the flu. We'll see if he is capable of playing tonight."
Johnson felt good enough to play and started the game with his usual defensive partner, Jan Hejda. He played 19:51 and finished with two shots.
Thursday's game marked the 400th of Johnson's career. He is the first defenseman from the 2006 draft class to reach the 400-game milestone (13th player overall).
Head coach Patrick Roy mixed up his lines against the Canucks as he started the game with the trio of Paul Stastny, Gabriel Landeskog and Jamie McGinn. Stastny and Landeskog had been playing with Nathan MacKinnon for much of the season.
MacKinnon started the game on a line with Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly, who had been playing with McGinn. The line had been together since March 10, when PA Parenteau injured his knee against Winnipeg.
However, when the game was tied late in the third period Roy went back to his old line combinations of O'Reilly-Duchene-McGinn and Landeskog-Stastny-MacKinnon.
The Avs used an uneven lineup against the Canucks as they dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen.
Colorado's third line had Marc-Andre Cliche at center and Cody McLeod and Maxime Talbot on the wings. Patrick Bordeleau and Brad Malone were wings on the fourth line, playing with several different Avs centers that were rotating in during the contest.
Nate Guenin was Colorado's seventh defenseman.
CLINCHING WILL HAVE TO WAIT
The Avalanche will have to wait at least another day to clinch its first playoff berth since 2010.
Colorado needed to defeat Vancouver and have the New Jersey Devils defeat the Phoenix Coyotes in order to end its three-year drought from the postseason. The Coyotes won 3-2 in a shootout in a contest that was decided right after the first period of the Avs-Canucks game had concluded.
While the Avs weren't able to accomplish its goal of making the postseason on Thursday, they are close and could clinch on Friday.
"It would be a big accomplishment," Colorado center Matt Duchene said of making the playoffs after Thursday's morning skate. "That was our goal early in the season, to make the playoffs and challenge for a Stanley Cup."
Roy said the team isn't going to change its approach when it secures its spot in the postseason, as it will still just take it one day at a time and stay humble.
"It would be nice to get this out of the way in some ways, but it's not that important," Roy said Thursday morning. "To me, it's to see our team play consistent hockey. I don't want us to look at the big picture all the time. What I want us to do is focusing on what we have to do, what we control. We have been talking all along that we want to be even-keel from the start of the year, and it certainly is not going to change today because we start sniffing the playoffs."
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