One of the benefits of the condensed 2020-21 season is that every team has a chance to quickly get back in the win column after a loss.
The Colorado Avalanche dropped its first game at the San Jose Sharks on Monday and the players did not like the way they competed in the latter half of the contest. They responded with a full-team effort in a 4-0 victory in the rematch at SAP Center on Wednesday.
"I thought throughout our whole lineup guys were playing hard, trying to outwork the guy across from him. I think that our focus was real good, our determination was there, we were skating and winning the races," said head coach Jared Bednar. "Just the competitiveness that the league requires in order for you to win two out of three games or three out of four games, that is the type of play we had from our guys, from [goaltender Philipp Grubauer] out all the way through our lineup and that is real important for our team."
Colorado was led offensively by Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen as each factored on all of the Avs' goals for new season highs. Landeskog finished with one marker and three assists while Rantanen had two tallies as well as two helpers.
Rantanen's four-point performance matched his career best that he has now achieved eight times.
"It's not all about the points. Some games you don't feel good and you might get three points, and some nights you are playing awesome, you get scoring chances every shift and you might get no points at all," said Rantanen. "Obviously, playing on the first line you have to produce some points to help the team win, but it's not the biggest thing for me."
Video: Mikko Rantanen on the Avs' 4-0 win vs. the Sharks
Grubauer only saw 26 shots but stopped all of them to record his third shutout of the season, tied for first in the NHL, and he was pleased by the way the team was playing in front of him.
"Hell of a response compared to last game. I think everybody bought in, everybody worked hard, 60 minutes," said the German netminder. "We didn't have five minutes pressure on them and then 15 minutes in our own zone, so it was really good. I think like Mikko said, it's not always about the points or the goals or the assists you score and have, it's about the team and helping the team win. I think that was a really good game from us."
The keeper now has 14 career clean sheets and eight with the Avalanche, taking over fifth place on the franchise's all-time shutouts list. Grubauer's 11 wins this season are tied for third (Marc-Andre Fleury) in the NHL.
Video: COL@SJS: Grubauer blanks Sharks in 4-0 victory
The victory marked the end of a four-game road trip for the Avalanche, which finished 3-1-0 on the journey. Colorado now returns home for a nine-game homestand beginning on Friday at Ball Arena, and the team's focus will need to resemble what it was in Wednesday's outing in San Jose to continue to find success.
"I think we had a really good, productive meeting this morning and watched some video like we always do, and we opened up the room and had a good conversation and that was needed at this point in the season," said captain Landeskog. "I mean we weren't so worried about tonight--we had a good feeling that we were all going to play well tonight--but it's just about what we do on Friday and what we do on Saturday and what we do game after game moving forward, and it's a good test for our team. We know every single team is going to play their best against us, and we are not going to get any easy matchups. Happy with the way we responded tonight. We will rest up and get ready for this weekend."
Nathan MacKinnon left the game 8:08 into the third period after he was checked in the head by San Jose's Joachim Blichfeld, but head coach Jared Bednar had some positive news after the contest.
"I saw him coming off the ice, he was in the hallway. Seems to be doing good, I think that we get lucky on it," said Bednar. "Hopefully he is feeling good and everything tomorrow, but as of right now he seems to be fine."
Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar after the shutout of San Jose
Blichfeld was assessed a match penalty and the Avalanche scored on the ensuing five-minute power play due to the major, the third straight game that Colorado has tallied on the man advantage.
Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon continue to climb up the charts in the Avalanche record books.
Landeskog scored the 55th power-play goal of his career, passing Peter Forsberg (54) for sole possession of fourth place in Colorado history (since 1995). This comes after he found the back of the net in the last outing to pass Forsberg (202) for third place for all-time goals in an Avalanche sweater (since 1995-96).
Video: COL@SJS: Landeskog cleans up rebound down low for PPG
The contest also marked Landeskog's 651st career game, passing Anton Stastny (650) for sole possession of eighth place in Colorado/Quebec franchise history.
MacKinnon assisted on Mikko Rantanen's second-period tally to record the 322nd helper of his career, surpassing Alex Tanguay (321) for sole possession of fourth place in Avalanche history. MacKinnon assists totals moves him into a tie with Dale Hunter for seventh place in Colorado/Quebec history.
MORE POSTGAME NOTES
The Avalanche improved to 3-1-0 against San Jose through the first four meetings of the year between the clubs. They are next slated to square off on April 30 to begin a stretch of four consecutive games between one another.
Colorado finished 3-for-3 on the penalty kill and went 9-for-10 (90 percent) on the road trip. The Avs' PK is 56-for-63 this season, the best percentage (88.9 percent) in the league.
The Avalanche's 60 percent faceoff-win percentage was a season best. Colorado's top two performances on faceoffs this season came on the road trip, the other being Feb. 26 at Arizona (59 percent).
Gabriel Landeskog collected four points (one goal, three assists), his most in a game since Dec. 11, 2018 versus the Edmonton Oilers (two goals, two assists), and is on a three-game goal streak.
Samuel Girard scored his fourth goal of the season, equaling his career high reached in each of the last three seasons. Girard has goals in consecutive games for the first time in his career and points in each of his last three outings (two goals, two assists).
Video: COL@SJS: Girard buries slap shot from the high slot