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Avs Keep Pace In The Battle For A Playoff Berth

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche
In a battle for the final playoff spot and in a game they couldn’t afford to lose, the Colorado Avalanche was cool and collected on the ice.

Even after giving up a late goal in the third period, the Avs didn’t panic and did what they do best; win in a shootout fashion.
Milan Hejduk and Peter Mueller scored in the shootout and Semyon Varlamov stopped both Edmonton Oilers attempts to give Colorado a 3-2 victory on Saturday afternoon at Pepsi Center.
“Lately, it seems like we don’t panic in any situation, which is a good thing and that’s what good teams do,” Hejduk said. “It doesn’t matter what the score is, you try and keep your game and eventually things will turn around.”
Colorado was up 2-1 going into the third period; a mark that would stay until Taylor Hall tied the game for the Oilers with 4:43 remaining.
While some teams may break down after giving up a late lead, the Avs did not and instead continued to play their consistent game of creating scoring chances down low.
“It’s a little devastating when they score that one [late],” Mueller said. “It shows a lot of character with us stepping up, Varly making big saves and our D making huge plays to get us to overtime and the shootout.”
Going into overtime and the shootout, there may be no team in the NHL with more confidence than the Avs, who have now lost only twice in their last 21 tiebreakers.
“Mathematically, we have a pretty good advantage in the shootout,” said Paul Stastny. “After those five extra minutes go by, we feel that we give ourselves a pretty good chance in the shootout.”
The Avalanche is now 8-1 in shootouts this season with Varlamov a perfect 7-0 when in net.
Despite several good scoring opportunities by the Avs in the first period, it was the Oilers that scored first. Ryan Smyth picked up the tally after crashing to the front of the net and scoring on a rebound with 37 seconds left in the opening period.
The Avs didn’t panic, and in the second period they continued their solid play and eventually evened the game with a one-timer from Cody McLeod at the bottom the left circle at 4:44 of the stanza.
Mueller gave Colorado a 2-1 advantage at 10:05 of the second period after scoring on a rebound from a Hejduk backhand shot.
In the shootout, both Hejduk and Mueller scored on similar shots, wristers that went top-shelf and over the glove.
Mueller said he was looking at how Hejduk scored and chose his shot on that.
“I just wanted to watch and see what he did,” Mueller said. “I had a simple move in mind, and you look at Hedgy (Milan Hejduk) and kind of see what he did and base your shot on that.”
The Avalanche is 3-1-0 in its last four games, 7-3-0 in its last 10 and 10-5-1 in its last 16. They improve to 36-30-4 (74 points) overall and will continue their push for the postseason on Monday when they host Anaheim before playing three games on the East Coast.
Shootout Success Continues
Colorado played in its ninth shootout of the season and improved its record to 8-1 with a win over the Oilers. The Avs are 19-2 in their last 21 tiebreakers.
Semyon Varlamov – who made 28 saves in the game – is now 7-0 in shootouts this year, allowing just two goals on 21 attempts (.905 save percentage).
Milan Hejduk, who shot first in the tiebreaker, is now 6-for-9 in shootouts this season (66.7%) with three game-deciding goals. He is 24-for-56 (42.9%) in career shootout attempts with 11 game-deciding goals.
Landeskog Ties Record

Gabriel Landeskog tied the franchise record for shots by a rookie in a single season on Saturday against the Oilers.
The Swedish rookie fired five pucks toward Edmonton goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin in the game, four of which coming in the second period.
Landeskog now has 232 shots this season, which ties him with Peter Stastny (1980-81) for the most all-time in franchise history.
Battle For The Calder
Two of the likely candidates for the 2012 Calder Trophy, which honors the league’s rookie of the year, were playing on the ice for the fourth time this season - Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog and Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Nugent-Hopkins missed two of the series' six games due to injury).
Landeskog appears to be the slight frontrunner for the award as he entered Saturday’s contest first among rookies in shots (227), plus/minus (+19) and takeaways (55). He was also second among freshmen in goals (18), assists (25-tied), points (43) and hits (183).
Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft, has 15 goals and 26 assists (41 points) in 48 contests with the Oilers this season. However, he did miss 20 games this season with two separate injuries.
Both players finish with three points against each other’s teams. Landeskog had two goals and one assist versus the Oilers while Nugent-Hopkins had three assists versus the Avalanche.
New Jersey’s Adam Henrique is also in the discussion for this season’s Calder Trophy.
More Notes
Peter Mueller extended his point streak to four games (1g/4a).

The Avs are 20-9-4 in one-goal games….Those 20 one-goal wins are tied for second in the NHL behind only Tampa Bay (21).

The Avalanche’s penalty killing unit has killed off 13 consecutive opponent power plays.

The Avalanche finished 3-3-0 against the Oilers this season, 2-1-0 at home and 1-2-0 on the road…But today’s shootout result means the Oilers win the season series based on points (7-6).

All-time, the Avalanche/Nordiques are 67-62-8-4 against the Oilers, their second-most wins versus any opponent (69 vs. Carolina/Hartford)…Since moving to Denver, the Avs are 55-32-6-4 against Edmonton, their most wins against a single opponent since the franchise relocated.

Today was the Avalanche’s fifth and final afternoon game of the season (second at home)…The Avs finished 3-1-1 in daytime contests.
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