Entering an important four-game homestand, the Colorado Avalanche knew it had a tough task ahead when facing off against last year’s Stanley Cup finalist from the Eastern Conference.
The Avs hosted the New York Rangers on Thursday night, dropping a 6-3 decision at Pepsi Center despite tying the game in the third period.
Colorado found itself down 2-0 less than two minutes into the middle frame before captain Gabriel Landeskog scored at 12:46 to cut the Rangers lead in half.
The Avalanche maintained pressure in the offensive zone for over 80 seconds before a Nathan MacKinnon shot hit Landeskog in the chest as he was skating toward the net. The puck ricocheted over Rangers goalie Cam Talbot’s left pad and into the net.
“I thought Landy’s goal was a huge goal to get some momentum back after they were up 2-0,” said forward Jarome Iginla. “It felt like we were coming [back]. Unfortunately, they scored shortly after that and ran with it from there. I thought we were coming all the way back tonight, and we had a chance to do that.”
When asked about the shifts in momentum throughout the game, Landeskog said: “They came out hard in the first. It felt like we put them back on their heels a little bit in the second, and in the third I felt like we took over again and it shifted again in the third. It was a lot of shifting back and forth.”
Despite being down 3-1 after 40 minutes of play, the team came out in the third with resilience and a sense of urgency.
Iginla started the third period comeback when he tallied his team-leading 17th goal of the season at 6:43 of the final stanza. Four minutes later, defenseman Jan Hejda buried his own rebound after his initial shot was blocked, sending it past Talbot to tie the game 3-3.
“We could have just rolled over, but as a group, I thought in the third period we came out right from the drop of the puck and were able to put a ton of pressure, get a lot of shots and tie it up,” Iginla said. “It hurts because we battled in a tough game, a roller-coaster game, and we didn’t come out with a win.”
Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy added: “I thought we played really well in the third. Halfway in the second and the third, I thought we had some good moments.”
Roy was also pleased with the performance of his captain and the leadership he showed during the back-and-forth game with the Rangers. Landeskog played 21:24 in the match, the second most minutes on the team, while also contributing a goal, three shots and three takeaways.
“I was very proud of our captain. I thought he showed great urgency in the second, especially when he scored his goal,” Roy said. “I thought it was great leadership by him and it was a performance that I think his teammates could look at and say ‘This is how we have to work if we want to have some success.’
“I’m encouraged by the way the captain showed up tonight. I’m very encouraged by that.”