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A New Start

by Ryan Boulding / Colorado Avalanche

Having dropped a 5-4 decision to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, the Colorado Avalanche was looking to come out and have a big game against the Dallas Stars on Saturday.

The club certainly did that in the end, overcoming a 3-1 deficit with five unanswered goals to top Dallas 6-3.

That kind of response is almost more satisfying than if the home team had won outright. It proved that the Avs are resilient and can overcome.

“It’s a type of win you want. It was a total team effort,” veteran forward Jarome Iginla said. “We were playing a good Stars team. They can score goals. They’re fast. They’ve got the leading scorer from last year in Seguin, and Spezza. So they’re dangerous, and they showed that tonight. But we were able to stay in there and stay positive and just keep working and look for a spark.

“It was nice. It was nice to be able to come back and do that, but also have a dominant third, which was big.”

Using Thursday’s loss as a motivational tool, Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy was definitely pleased with the response his team gave.

“When you look at what happened in the third period against Minnesota, any team would be affected at the start of the game,” he said. “But at the end, you need to see if you have character and that’s what our guys did.”

“We were hungry after last game,” Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog added. “We were disappointed after the home opener. We wanted to bounce back well here tonight, and I think we did in a good way.”

Landeskog was one player who led by example, finishing Saturday’s game with a career high-four points (two goals, two assists), three shots and three blocked shots in 20:27 of ice time. His consecutive tallies helped put the game out of reach in the third period.

“We knew that we definitely have enough skill and grit in this room to turn around a two-goal deficit,” he said after the match. “I mean, we were up three goals last game with 10 minutes to go, and here we were down two with half of the game left.

“That shows a lot about [the] character in this room, and it’s only a start. It’s only Game 2, but it definitely gives us that confidence moving forward.”

Goalscoring hasn’t been an issue for Colorado over the course of the first two games of the 2015-16 season, and a lot of that has to do with the power play.

Not the most successful area for the Avs last season, this year’s man-advantage unit has been, well, powerful.

Colorado has gone 4-for-6 on the power play through the first two contests, which includes back-to-back, important tallies in Saturday night’s match against the visiting Stars.

Both rear guard Erik Johnson and the experienced Iginla tallied to even the score at 3-3, boosting the Avalanche’s confidence in the process.

“That was a key moment in the game,” Roy said. “The first [power play], we had a few shots on net, and I thought we were okay. Then the second one we scored a big goal and the third one, the same thing.”

The two markers put the Avs in rarified air as this became the first team in Avalanche history to open a season by scoring two or more power-play goals in each of its first two games.

“It’s early, and we’re going to stay humble with it,” Iginla said of the club’s special teams. “We’re going to keep trying to work hard at it, but we’re definitely focusing on it.”

Typically a slow starter, Iginla has found the back of the net twice in two games, both goals coming on the man advantage. He also tied Mark Messier (179) for 26th place on the NHL’s all-time power-play goals list with his second-period marker on Saturday.

“It feels good, but it feels even better to get this first win,” Iginla said of his contributions. “For two games—being at home here—for about five periods we’ve played some pretty good hockey, and being able to bounce back as a group after being down 3-1 and letting things slip in the first game. I thought that’s something we can build on, and the way we did it was a well-rounded game.

“It’s early in the season and it’s just one game, but you need to get that first win and you need to start to feel good about yourself and ourselves. It’s something to build on.”

Iginla joins a list of 12 Colorado players that already have at least a point on the season. As a matter of fact, 11 separate players found the scoresheet in Saturday’s contest alone, and three skaters—Francois Beauchemin (five assists), Gabriel Landeskog (three goals, two assists) and Nathan MacKinnon (one goal, four assists)—already lead the Avalanche and are in a three-way tie for second in the NHL in points.

“It’s good. We got 10 goals in two games,” MacKinnon said. “I mean, last year we had zero in two games to start the season. So there’s some positives, obviously.”

“When the team is firing on all cylinders, just like we did, I just try to pull my part of the job and do what I can,” Landeskog added. “I feel like our line was clicking tonight. We’re all working hard. It feels good to contribute, obviously, but the most important thing is that we’re back in the win column and we did it in a good way.”

For a veteran defenseman like Francois Beauchemin, the high-point total to start the year isn’t the kind of thing he can ever remember having—not that he’s complaining.

“I don’t think so. I will have to look back, but I doubt that,” he said. “That’s usually a monthly stat for me.”

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