Sunday, March 20, 2016, Game 72, 7:30 pm MST
Rexall Place, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
The Colorado Avalanche limped into Edmonton missing three injured starters – Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, and Eric Gelinas – and hoping the return of Gabriel Landeskog and rookie call up Mikko Rantanen would help advance the team’s quest for a postseason spot.
The Avalanche launched onto the ice with energy against an Oilers team motivated to overcome their own defensive injuries. The first period showed a lot of back and forth action in which the Avalanche outshot the Oilers 12-8. Rookie Mikko Rantanen was called for a penalty late in the period, which the team successfully killed.
Less than two minutes into the second period, captain Gabriel Landeskog capitalized on a Carl Soderberg pass to put Colorado on the scoreboard. Shortly after killing a penalty on Mikhail Grigorenko, Zack Kassian was called for roughing Cody McLeod in front of the Oilers’ net. After dominating in the Oilers zone for a full two minutes on the Kassian penalty, Tyson Barrie smacked the puck through traffic to put Colorado up by two. The officiating struggled to keep up with the game and assessed a penalty on Cody McLeod after Kassian cross-checked him into Jordan Eberle while refusing to call a high sticking penalty when an Oiler’s stick hit Erik Johnson in the mouth.
The third period presented a rougher start as former Avalanche member Matt Hendricks managed to get the Oilers on the score sheet three minutes into the period. The Avalanche responded as Blake Comeau deflected a Johnson shot into the Oilers net on the power play off a Connor McDavid hi-sticking call. Goaltender Calvin Pickard continued to impress by limiting rebounds. The Landeskog, Soderberg, and Shawn Matthias line powered their way to a strong showing and the new line combinations, forced by the loss of two centers, were effective in controlling the Oilers. Even though Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hit net with seven seconds remaining, the game was not in doubt as the Avalanche left Rexall Place with a well earned 3-2 victory.
STARS OF THE GAME
1. Gabriel Landeskog – 1 goal, 1 assist, 4 shots on goal
2. Zack Kassian – 1 assist
3. Calvin Pickard – 26 saves on 28 shots, .929 save %
PLAY OF THE GAME
Blake Comeau’s third period goal eventually became the game winner and helped settle the plau.
When the Avalanche successfully killed the penalty called on Mikko Rantanen with less than five minutes left in the first period, the team gained momentum and young Edmonton star Connor McDavid became almost a non-factor in the game. The first successful Colorado penalty kill set the tone for the rest of the game as they would roll to four successful penalty kills for the night.
BY THE NUMBERS
QUOTE OF THE GAME
“Anytime you see key guys go down, you obviously can’t replace them, but it gives everyone else a chance to step up and show what they can do…” – Tyson Barrie
The Colorado Avalanche battled through adversity for a character win over the Edmonton Oilers to maintain a one point lead over the Minnesota Wild for the eighth wild card spot. While the Wild pulled out a win against Chicago, it came in a shoot out so Colorado advances to a three game lead in ROW games. The Avalanche will have three days to tend to their wounded and regroup as they fight for a playoff spot in the remaining nine games.
The Colorado Avalanche return for the first tilt of a two game home stand facing the Philadelphia Flyers Thursday night at 7 pm at the Pepsi Center.