Landeskog, MacKinnon Go Wild vs. Minnesota
Avs captain and rookie combined for seven points in Minnesota sweep
Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog scored a goal for the second straight game Saturday night and, with 20 points on the year (nine goals, 11 assists), moved into a tie with Matt Duchene atop the Avs’ points list.
Nathan MacKinnon matched Landeskog Saturday, scoring a goal in back-to-back games for the first time in his career, and was honored as one of the three stars of the game for the second straight night.
Those two performances helped the Avs to a 3-2 shootout victory against Minnesota at Pepsi Center and sweep their post-Thanksgiving back-to-back, home-and-home series with the Wild.
Landeskog (two goals/two assists) and MacKinnon (two goals/one assist) accounted for seven points in the Wild sweep.
“It was a good couple games against [Minnesota], they obviously play a pretty tough game,” said MacKinnon, who was the first star Friday in St. Paul and the third star Saturday. “Down low, they're tough to defend. It's always nice to get on the board a little bit, but obviously getting two wins is huge for us.”
Landeskog put Colorado ahead 1-0 Saturday with a tough-angle shot at 2:22 in the first period. That added to his two-game spurt against Minnesota, which started Friday with assists on Colorado’s first two goals and ended with an empty-net score with 20 seconds to play.
Friday’s effort was the second three-point game of Landeskog’s career, matching his output from Feb. 28, 2013 when he also had a goal and two assists in the Avs’ 5-4 win against Calgary.
“Someone would say to me that we picked up three points off [the Wild] in the weekend, I would be very happy, and we would take it in a heartbeat,” Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. “Now we got three points ahead of them, and we’ve got three games in hand. That’s pretty good.”
COLORADO FINALLY GOES TO SHOOTOUT
The Avs have shown a knack for authoring various types of victories this season, but they ventured into new territory Saturday when the score was still tied 2-2 after a five-minute overtime.
Colorado and the New York Rangers were the only teams before Saturday night to have yet to participate in a shootout.
Now, the Rangers stand alone.
Ryan O’Reilly put in the winner in Colorado’s third shootout try against Wild goalie Josh Harding, and Semyon Varlamov stopped all three shots he faced from Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville.
“I’ve been told that ‘Varly’ is pretty solid in shootouts,” Roy said. “I guess I was pretty confident that we could win that game. Ryan scored a super-nice goal, and ‘Varly’ was outstanding. They sent their three best shooters, and I thought he was outstanding from the start of the game to the end.”
After PA Parenteau and MacKinnon came up empty against Wild goalie Josh Harding with the Avs’ first two attempts, O’Reilly made his way up the right side of the ice before skating back across and getting Harding to commit. Once he did, O’Reilly had a relatively easy opening into the back of the net.
“Coming down the right side, coming with a good amount of speed, I have options, and I just kind of read off the goalie and what he gives me,” O’Reilly said. “It’s no real set play. I just kind of read, and luck for me, just put it in.
“I just tried to opened up my blade, try to look like I’m going to shoot out, and then kind of put it through.”
Roy was asked after the game about the details on how he picked his first shootout lineup as an NHL head coach. The answer was classic Roy.
“We had a shootout for fun [Thursday] at our practice, and I sent the three guys that scored,” Roy said succinctly and with a grin. “That was an easy pick, isn’t it?”
POSTGAME NOTES OF NOTE
- John Mitchell began Saturday night’s game needing two points to enter the 100-career-points plateau. He got it at 12:56 in the second period with his assist on MacKinnon’s goal.
Mitchell, who has five assists this season and four goals (nine points), has 39 goals and now 61 assists in his six-year NHL career. He’s the 10th active player on the Avs roster with 100 or more career points (Tanguay, 771; Stastny, 415; Duchene, 213; Parenteau, 188; Talbot, 156; Sarich, 153; O’Reilly, 144; Johnson 139; Hejda, 114).
- Neither the Avalanche or Wild were whistled for a penalty in the game. That’s the second time the Avalanche/Nordiques franchise has played a game in which neither it or its opponent committed a penalty. The only other instance came April 9, 2000 when Colorado played Detroit.
“I thought both teams were disciplined,” Roy said. “I thought it was a great game. Both teams played really well. At the end, we were happy to be on the winning side.”
- The Avs are 4-0-0 this season in games that go beyond regulation. Colorado is 3-0 in overtime and 1-0 in shootouts.