Avalanche Resilient in Loss to Stars
Colorado nearly erased a four-goal deficit in the third period
While his squad wasn't able to pull out another come-from-behind victory on home ice, Colorado coach Patrick Roy came away from Wednesday's 5-3 lost to the Dallas Stars pleased with his team's resiliency.
"We saw a lot of good things out there," Roy said.
"I can’t really say anything bad about our team, except for maybe about 15 minutes of the second period, but overall we were resilient."
The Avalanche had a strong start to the game, outshooting the Stars 10-1 after the first period but was unable to find the back of the net.
The strong start, however, didn't translate to the second period. Dallas scored four times in the first 10 minutes of the middle stanza, but Colorado wasn't going to give up – even in a preseason game.
"I think our guys really want to please our fans," Roy said. "I could sense that they were in no way going to give up on that game. Like I said to them at one of the timeouts, 'One thing I know, if we want to make a comeback we’re going to have to be resilient and keep working hard.'"
Colorado started to chip away at the lead – just like it did against Los Angeles on Friday to erase a three-goal deficit and pull out an overtime victory – with the captain leading the way.
First it was a hard working goal by Gabriel Landeskog, who drove to the net from the right circle and found some space past the pads of Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen for the score with 2:11 left in the second period.
“I’m very happy with my captain; Landy played a really good game," Roy said. "He worked hard, he was sharp,
Brad Malone then cut the deficit to 4-2 as he whacked in his own rebound from a tough angle along the left post with 11 minutes left in the third.
Paul Stastny cut the deficit to one nearly four minutes later, but the Stars scored on an empty net with 1:40 to go to seal the win – but not before Colorado almost tied it several times moments before.
"It was close because Lehtonen made some very good saves, the cross bar obviously, but also the save on Duchene was a heck of a play by O’Reilly – that could have beat a lot of goalies.”
The Avalanche wasn't able to pick up the victory this time, but goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere said the club would win more games than it loses if the team keeps playing like it did in those final 30 minutes.
“We showed a lot of character tonight after it was 4-0," Giguere said. "We could have just packed up the gear and go home, but we showed a lot of resiliency and guys kept battling. We are going to win more games playing that way than not.”
Welcome, Mr. Cliche
On Friday night, Marc-Andre Cliche was getting ready in the Pepsi Center visiting locker room as a member of the Los Angeles Kings. Four days later, Cliche was in the home locker room putting on the Avalanche's burgundy and blue sweater.
Colorado claimed Cliche off waivers and the forward from Rouyn Noranda, Quebec made his debut for the Avs on Tuesday night against the Stars.
“I didn’t expect to get picked up on waivers by the Avalanche, but I’m really happy about it, and it’s been great so far,” Cliche said. “All the guys have been really nice, and I’ve been really well-welcomed."
While it was unexpected for Cliche, the pick up was even more of a surprise to his family.
“I was actually at home sitting with my dad, and he didn’t believe me for like the first 20 minutes. I think it’s just a great opportunity for me, and I’m going to grasp it.”
Cliche has played in one NHL game in his career, but head coach Patrick Roy said he is going to give the 6-foot-1, 202-pound forward an opportunity to crack the lineup.
“It will be up to him to show what he can do, but I think he’s going to help on the [penalty kill]," Roy said. "He’s a very good PK guy. We’ll give him his chance, and it will be up to him to show what he can do. We’re certainly not going to be in his way to move up in the lineup.”
Bigras Sent Back To Junior
The Avalanche made two roster moves before Tuesday's morning skate, sending forward Paul Carey to the Lake Erie Monsters (AHL) and defenseman Chris Bigras back to his junior squad, the Owen Sound Attack (OHL).
Maybe no other rookie impressed head coach Patrick Roy more than Bigras during this year's preseason.
"What a training camp he had," Roy said. "I'm so happy with him. That is what I said to him this morning. The thing that impressed me the most was that even if he got beat, he was resilient and would never give up.
"I think it is important for him to have another year of junior and to play a larger role on his junior team. We believe that he will play for us one day."
Selected in the second round (No. 32 overall) in this year's draft, Bigras participated in two preseason contests and had an assist.
Bigras' first game with Owen Sound will be Thursday against the Barrie Colts.
MacKinnon's Next Game To Be On Thursday
For the third straight game, rookie Nathan MacKinnon was held out because of a hip injury.
However, Roy said he expects the rookie to play Thursday in Dallas and in Saturday night's preseason finale against the Los Angeles Kings in Las Vegas.
MacKinnon's hip injury was something that the coaching staff knew about prior to training camp but is not considered serious.
“[He] could have played today, but we just didn’t want to push it too fast—just wanted to be cautious," the Avalanche coach said.
Colorado's first pick in this summer's draft was centering a line with Jamie McGinn and PA Parenteau during his first game, last Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks. MacKinnon finished with two shots and won 50 percent of his faceoffs (7-of-14) in 14:59 of ice time in that game.
MacKinnon has been practicing this week, including after Tuesday morning skate with other players that were scratched from that night's game.
Heading Out On The Road
The Avalanche closed out its home portion of its preseason schedule Tuesday night and will now head out on the road for two contests before opening the regular season Oct. 2 against the Ducks
While last Sunday’s game in Anaheim was technically a road trip for Colorado, the team's flight took off early Sunday for Southern California and the club returned to Denver immediately after the game.
So, Wednesday's flight to Dallas and the team’s subsequent flight to Las Vegas following Thursday’s game will constitute the Avalanche’s first real road “trip” of the season.
“Especially just being with the guys, having team dinners and what not and getting that team-bonding time that you need going into the season," Landeskog said. "We’ve got a great group here, and we have a lot of fun every day, and I’m looking forward to the road trip.”
Added Parenteau: “It’s going to be fun going back on the road with the boys. I haven’t been on the road yet, so it’s nice. We’ve got a few new faces around the team, new coaching staff, so we’re still learning to know each other, and it’s a process, and it’s going to be good to finish those last two games on the road, for sure.”
ColoradoAvalanche.com's Scott Ward contributed to this story.