The Avalanche scored three of its goals Saturday against the Dallas Stars on just simple shots to the net, with traffic in front and players collapsing toward the crease. 'Greasy' goals are how it's done in the NHL these days, and the Avs know they need more of them.
Colorado's 4-1 victory at Pepsi Center was a good start.
"That is what we need to continue to do. We need to go to the net. It doesn't have to be flashy all the time or perfect all the time," said Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy. "I was watching games before our game and saw a lot of goals like this around the NHL."
Gabriel Landeskog found twine on a tip, Alex Tanguay cleaned up a rebound and Jarome Iginla redirected a shot from the blue line to give the Avs a 3-0 lead early in the third period.
Getting in front of new Dallas goalie Jhonas Enroth, who was acquired in a trade with Buffalo on Wednesday and was making his first start with the Stars, was the plan for Colorado and the team executed.
"We feel that we have been a little inconsistent all year. It's certainly a big part of the league nowadays," Landeskog said of hindering vision lanes of opposing netminders. "You look at all the goals that are being scored: it's tips, it's rebounds, it's shots from the point with a screen."
Landeskog's goal gave the Avs a 1-0 lead at 11:28 of the first period as he drove to the front of the cage and got his stick on a Nathan MacKinnon shot from the top of the left circle. The puck took a quick second deflection as well, caroming off Dallas defender Jordie Benn before getting past Enroth.
The score was a nice validation for a solid opening period for the Avs, who had more shots (10-6), hits (13-7), takeaways (5-2) and faceoff wins (18-8) than the Stars.
"We knew they played last night, and we feel like our first periods have been lacking lately and it hasn't been as good as they should be," Landeskog said. "Tonight, we had a good first period."
Tanguay's rebound goal gave the Avalanche a 2-0 lead early in the second period. The sequence began with Colorado keeping the puck in the Dallas end before Nate Guenin's shot from the blue line went off Enroth and Dennis Everberg in front and right to Tanguay with a wide-open net to shoot at.
Everberg, who scored late in the third period to cap his first multi-point NHL game, was key on Tanguay's tally as he tied up two Dallas players, allowing Tanguay to come in free on the right side.
"He is a big guy. When he has net presence, it helps us a lot," Roy said of Everberg. "It was great for [Tanguay] to score off the rebound, but he did a super job in front of the net."
It was Tanguay's first game with his new linemates—Everberg and John Mitchell—as Roy mixed up his lines before the game. Tanguay had been on a line with Matt Duchene and Jarome Iginla, but the move allowed Roy to roll three solid lines with offensive upside.
"That was the objective. We just feel that it gives us more depth," Roy said. "Dutchy seems to click well with Jarome, and Alex played real well with Mitchy all year, the time they have been together this year."
The Duchene-centered line got onto the scoresheet later in the contest at 3:20 of the third period, as Duchene moved the puck up to Brad Stuart at the high slot and the burly defensemen let a slap shot go toward the net. The puck deflected off Iginla's leg between the circles—again providing a screen—and over the glove of Enroth.
Were the Avalanche's goals lucky? Maybe, but all three tallies were the result of good, hardworking backchecks that kept pucks in the offensive zone and tired Dallas bodies on the ice.
"When we cycle it and when we have O-zone time, we can make (line) changes," Nathan MacKinnon said. "It's fun hockey. The fans are loud, and when we score it's even louder."
A CAREER HIGH FOR McLEOD
Earlier this season, Cody McLeod surpassed the century mark for penalty minutes in a career. On Saturday, he hit the 1,100 mark.
McLeod, who now has 1,118 career PIMs, recorded a career-high 30 penalty minutes, with all but five coming at 6:22 of the third period during skirmishes with Dallas' Jason Demers. His previous game high was 26 penalty minutes, set as a rookie on Feb. 18, 2008 vs. Detroit.
He is the first Avalanche player to register 30 penalty minutes in a game since Chris McAllister had 31 on Feb. 20, 2004 at Dallas.
McLeod was named the first star of the game.
IGINLA TALLIES TEAM-LEADING 18TH
Jarome Iginla scored for the second consecutive game and 578th time in his NHL career, breaking a tie with Mark Recchi for sole possession of 19th place on the NHL's all-time goals list. He is now 23 goals shy of the next player on the list, Jari Kurri, who scored 601 times during his 18-year hall-of-fame career.
Iginla's tally came off a deflection on Brad Stuart's shot in the slot just 3:20 into the third period. It was his team-leading 18th goal, and he is now tied with Alex Tanguay for Colorado's scoring lead with 38 points this season.
The goal also marked Iginla's 1,205 point, which ties him with Vincent Damphousse for 45th place in the league's record books.
WHERE'S THE CELEBRATION?
It was one of the more subdued celebrations by the Avalanche this season.
Early in the third period, Brad Stuart chased down a loose puck and wound up for a big-time slap shot in the high slot. However, as his stick made contact with the puck, he collided with Nick Holden—who was also racing for the loose biscuit.
The puck found its way to twine—thanks to a deflection by Iginla—but the focus afterward was two fold: celebrating the goal and worrying about the two Avs defensemen, as Holden and Stuart lay on the ice hurt.
Stuart got the worse of the blow, but eventually was able to get up on his own and get to the locker room for treatment. Both players returned to the game later in the third period.