When it rains, it pours sometimes, and for the Colorado Avalanche the pent up offense that had only shown glimpses in the previous seven games came flowing out like a torrent from high atop the mountain on Friday night in Denver.
It’s safe to say that all of Colorado’s hard work recently has paid off. There was no stick clenching or tentative play in the Avalanche’s 7-3 defeat over the Vancouver Canucks. There was however a lot of goalscoring.
Vancouver got on the board first and early in the contest when Henrik Sedin got a shot past goaltender Semyon Varlamov just 10 seconds into the match. Yet instead of hanging their heads, the Avs went to work doing what they do best.
“I thought, all the way around, everybody was ready. Everybody played a great game. It was a tough start for us. It was an unfortunate play off the start, and you could just tell on the bench, nobody really got down,” said Iginla after the snow had settled. “We got chances right after that. Even in the first period, being down a goal, it felt like we were coming, and if we just stuck with it—we were skating, guys were working, guys were competing—it just felt like we were going to find a way to get it done, and fortunately we did.”
Iginla got the ball rolling in the opening frame, scoring the first of his two goals on the night. The veteran forward caught a pass from Matt Duchene in the slot and roofed a backhand shot bar-down and into the Canucks’ net.
“It felt good. I was getting frustrated there in the first,” Iginla said of his first tally with the Avalanche. “You just start just trying to shoot it, but… Dutch did give me a nice pass right in the slot and that was on my backhand. I just [tried] to get it high and as hard as I can, and it was a very nice feeling to see it go in. It’s hard not to press for it at that point, but it sure felt good to get it.”
Vancouver countered minutes later with Alexandre Burrows burying a bouncing puck through Varlamov, but the deficit would hardly last.
Nothing could stop the Avalanche on Friday night as the home team scored the next four goals.
When the final horn sounded, the score was 7-3 and the offensive threat that was a staple of Colorado’s game last season had clearly returned with force.
“On a personal level, I think it was coming,” said Duchene, who finished with a goal and three points. “You’ve got to will it to happen sometimes.
“I have great linemates. [Alex Tanguay] and Iggy played awesome tonight, and Iggy, it was so great to see him get that first one. It was so great to get that monkey off his back. Two beautiful goals.
“You can see why he’s going to be a hall-of-fame guy. Really fun to play with him and Tango and hopefully this is just the start for our line.”
Four players—Duchene, Iginla, Tyson Barrie and Erik Johnson—had multipoint games and another 10—Nick Holden, Jan Hejda, Jamie McGinn, Zach Redmond, Marc-Andre Cliche, Nathan MacKinnon, Daniel Briere, Ryan O'Reilly, Gabriel Landeskog and Tanguay—had one point each.
“As an offensive team, you need to see pucks go in to get your confidence. And to have that many guys score goals, I know that everyone’s going to have a little more jump in their step tomorrow,” said Duchene. “And the guys that didn’t score, you know a lot of guys picked up assists as well. It bleeds into the next game.”
This is the kind of contest, one filled with unstoppable confidence and some pretty goals, that the Avalanche aims to continue down the road.
“That’s our hope and our belief, and I thought it started in the second period of the last game,” said Iginla, reflecting on when the team really started to connect. “I thought that, when Gabe and Factor (O’Reilly) and their power play got it going—and we came back from a couple last game—I thought that felt like we had taken some steps, and guys were feeling better, just feeling better about our game. So I think that carried over tonight and we want to keep it going.”
A Memorable Night
Colorado’s lopsided 7-3 victory over the Canucks on Friday night was memorable for more reasons than the scoreboard revealed. There were more than a few special plays worth recognizing.
Not only did Jerome Iginla find the net for the first time in an Avalanche sweater, but the veteran also moved into sole possession of 23rd place on the NHL’s all-time scoring list with 562 goals in his career.
Tanguay took sole possession of ninth place on Colorado’s franchise scoring list with his helper in the third period, moving one point ahead of Valeri Kaminsky (415).
Hejda’s assist on the final tally marked his 100th career helper.
Redmond notched his first point with the Avs in his first game.
Alternate captain Cody McLeod reached 1,004 penalty minutes—all acquired during his career with the Avalanche—thanks to a fight with Derek Dorsett in the first period. McLeod is the first player in Avalanche history to reach 1,000 penalty minutes.
With a win on the night, Varlamov moved into a tie with Mario Gosselin for sixth place in franchise wins.
Barrie tied his career high in points in a single game (3), his second three-point effort.
Barrie, Duchene and Iginla all finished with three points. Iginla now has 91 games with three or more points under his belt.
The Avalanche/Nordiques franchise is now 70-57-15-8 against Vancouver, which ties the most in franchise history (Hartford/Carolina).
Colorado outshot the Canucks 48-29.