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Avalanche Rallies On Three-Game Swing

Colorado finishes the trip with a 2-1 record

by Ryan Boulding @rboulding /

COLUMBUS, Ohio--The Colorado Avalanche played three games on the current road swing and three times the team fell victim to some unfortunate puck luck to start each contest.

Despite that the team rallied, thrice.

The club fell short in Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars, but the Avs won the next two, topping the Minnesota Wild 3-2 on Saturday and the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 in overtime on Monday.

"I think that is just kind of the breaks of hockey. Stuff like that happens. You can be perfect positionally and perfect work ethic and all that, but sometimes the puck will go in your own net," Erik Johnson said following Monday's victory. "So, you just try and stick with it, not try and do it all at once, and just try and roll it over shift after shift. And when you stick with the structure, good things happen and we tried to do that, and it was good to get the two points and have a happy plane on the way home."

Colorado rallying in each game on the trip provides a major confidence boost, as the club now knows what it can do when there is the added pressure of a scoreboard stacked against it.

Video: Erik Johnson has a goal and an assist vs. Columbus

"We've had our share of adversity this year, and we're doing a good job of sticking with it and finding ways to win," Matt Duchene said.

Despite the early deficits, things are starting to click for Colorado. The team has gotten goalscoring from key players, as Tyson Barrie picked up his second marker of the season with the 1-1 equalizer and Erik Johnson registered his first of the year on the 2-1 go-ahead tally.

"It's good. It's always good to get it off your back. It was kind of about time for me," Johnson said of his score. "I was getting a lot of chances and right before that I had two really good looks and I was like, 'Jeez, am I ever going to score again?' So it was nice to put the puck in the net, so hopefully that's just the floodgates are opening."

"We knew those guys were going to break through at some point," Duchene said. "They're too good of players not too. EJ was outstanding tonight. Obviously, a big goal and a big assist for us tonight."

A night for the defensemen, it would be a disservice not to mention the outstanding play of netminder Semyon Varlamov.

The 28-year-old Russian turned aside 40 shots, including 16 in the third period and three in overtime, to keep the Avalanche in it. Varlamov wasn't even beaten by a clean shot either, as both of the goals against were deflected by the Avs while defending.

Video: Coach Bednar's postgame press conference

"He was fantastic. We don't win without him in there tonight," head coach Jared Bednar said of his goaltender. "I thought he was the first star of the game tonight for me. We never want to rely on our goalie, but sometimes the game just doesn't come easy to you.

"I think we turned too many pucks over, too many missed passes, execution wise. We kind of fed into their transition game there. They're a fast team. They come at you hard. They put some pressure on you on the forecheck, and we turned over some pucks, especially in the first and third. We needed him to make a save, and he did that."

With a goalie determined to win the game, all the Avalanche needed to do was score a goal in the bonus frame. After a couple of shots against, that's exactly what happened.

Johnson, Duchene and Blake Comeau moved up the ice in a 3-on-1 situation, and Johnson fed Duchene for the easy game-winner. Not a bad finish for a guy who was playing in his first game since Nov. 13.

"In 3-on-3 there are lots of chances for odd mans, and it was a 3-on-1 and Combs was wide open in the slot, too. So I kind of had my options open," Johnson said of the play. "I just tried to put it on Dutchy's blade, and he did the rest. When you have good players like that and they're open, you just have to put it near their stick and they'll find a way to put it in."

With the win, the Avs improved to 7-2-0 in one-goal games and got back to the .500 mark.

"It was six tries for us, I think. Five or six tries to get there," Bednar said. "It's a little benchmark, but I think it's important for our team. You know, you get back to .500 and now next game we have a chance to go ahead instead of always trying to creep back from two games under. At some point, you're going to have to win some games and get above .500. Our game is coming slowly but surely, but guys are doing a better job within the structure of our play and we're getting more consistent with our compete and all those things that we got to do to, making plays and managing the puck.

"I think that is a positive sign. We get back to .500, and now we got to make sure we're trying to climb."

 Video: Matt Duchene returned to the Avalanche


After the victory, Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar provided an update on captain Gabriel Landeskog, who has been out of the lineup since Nov. 15 with a lower-body injury.

"I think he's starting to feel better," Bednar said. "He's working out again now, and hopefully we can get him on the ice here the next couple days and keep advancing him."

Landeskog has eight points (four goals, four assists) in 15 contests this season.



Monday's victory in Columbus was particularly special for a few members of the Colorado Avalanche. Forward Rene Bourque spent the last two seasons with the club, defenseman Fedor Tyutin played 553 of his 816 career games with the Blue Jackets and coaches Nolan Pratt and Jared Bednar coached the Lake Erie Monsters, Columbus' AHL affiliate, to a Calder Cup championship last year.

For Bednar, the entire day was special, but the win helped push it over the top.

"Well it was fun. It's a fun game for me to be a part of," Bednar said. "Coming back in here, it was a good day. Got to bump into some people. You always want to win, especially when you can beat some of your buddies and whatnot. It makes it even more fun. That is what the game is about, the competition part of it. Columbus is doing real well this year. They're out to a good start. This is a tough building to come in and win in.

"I think that is a positive for us that we were able to come in and do it. Some other teams have failed here as late. They've won seven in a row at home, so it makes it a little extra special knowing that I was a part of the organization."

The two teams meet again on Dec. 1 in Denver, which is also the Avalanche's 'Sport Your Stache Night.'



Video review is looking to be one of head coach Jared Bednar strengths this season.

Colorado's bench manager has thrice used a coach's challenge to question the legitimacy of a goal against, and he's found himself in the right all three times.

The first examination came in Pittsburgh in the Avalanche's second game and first on the road. Goaltender Calvin Pickard claimed he was interfered with by Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin and video review confirmed as much. The goal was overturned.

The second came on Oct. 22 at the Florida Panthers. Bednar told the officiating staff that he wanted a second look before the crowd was halfway through cheering, and the play was rescinded due to an errant player who was offside.

The latest victory in the challenge department came in the second period on Monday in Ohio. Boone Jenner looked to get the 2-2 equalizer on a shot from the faceoff circle, but replay revealed that Scott Hartnell had made contact with Seymon Varlamov prior to arrival of the puck.

Tweet from @Avalanche: No goal.Saved you a click...

No goal.

The Avalanche was 3-for-7 last year in having calls changed. Only one of those decisions resulted in a goal being reversed.

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