WINNIPEG, Manitoba—Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie entered the MTS Centre on Sunday afternoon not knowing if he would be able to play in that night's game against the Winnipeg Jets. After missing the past two contests with a hip flexor injury, Barrie was considered a game-time decision and was going to first take part in warmup before an assessment would be made on suiting up for the contest against the Jets.
It didn't take long during the pregame tune-up for him to not feel any resounding effects from the injury, and he was able to play in one of the biggest games of the season for his club.
"I felt good. As far as the injury goes, I think it's behind me," said Barrie, who had played in all 51 contests this season before the injury. "I had no idea I was going to be able to play until halfway through warmup when I was able to test it out."
He passed the test, and he felt so good he even potted a goal midway through the opening period.
Barrie's sixth tally of the season gave the Avalanche an early 1-0 lead, but the Jets responded with a four-goal second period and went on to win 5-3. It was the second of back-to-back games for Colorado, as the squad played in Minnesota on Saturday, losing 1-0.
The Avalanche and Jets are in the middle of the Western Conference playoff race, with Winnipeg currently holding one of the two wild card positions. Colorado is on the outside of the top eight ,but still remains very much in the hunt for a spot in the NHL's second season.
"I thought we were playing a pretty good hockey game up to that point," said Barrie of the Jets' big second period. "Sometimes that is the way the game goes, and that's unfortunate. These are big games so we have some work here to do to catch up."
Barrie skated for the first time since suffering the injury on Saturday after the team's formal morning skate at Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota, and said he felt a little discomfort during the 15-minute session. With the back-to-back, the Avalanche didn't hold a pregame skate on Sunday so the first chance for Barrie to see if there was any improvement with the hip was in warmup, roughly 30 minutes before puck drop.
"Felt pretty good today so went out in warmup and just tired to get some good laps in and try to switch directions, do some pivots and kind of push it and see where it was at," Barrie said.
Colorado took the first lead of the night with 9:03 left in the first period after Barrie received a pass in the high slot and fired a shot across his body that sailed over the shoulder of Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec
"[Jarome Iginla] made a good play to [Alex Tanguay] on the outside, and I just thought I would go through (the zone) and Tangs hit me in the middle with a great pass," Barrie said. "I was cutting to the right, and I thought I could get him going back the other way so it was nice to be able to beat him."
Barrie continues to lead all club defensemen in scoring with 31 points, while also holding the team lead in assists with 25. He has now scored in consecutive contests after tallying the tying goal in his last game, Feb. 3 at Dallas.
"Tyson brings a lot of offense to our team, and he scored a really nice goal to give us a 1-0 lead," said head coach Patrick Roy.
Barrie was paired with his usual defensive partner, Nate Guenin, during five-on-five situations, and he finished the night with a game-high 23:44 of ice time.
IGINLA ADDS TWO HELPERS, PASSES CICCARELLI
Jarome Iginla had two assists in Winnipeg to break a tie with Dino Ciccarelli (1,200) for 46th place on the NHL's all-time scoring list. Iginla currently has 1,202 points in his career and is now chasing 45th-place Vincent Damphousse, who recorded 1,205 points.
Iginla assisted on Tyson Barrie's first-period tally and on Matt Duchene's goal in the third period, sending a centering pass that Duchene was able to knock in from the low slot.
Duchene's tally gave the Avs a little life as it cut the deficit down to 4-2 with 12:53 left in regulation.
Iginla also played in his 1,364th career game on Sunday, passing Jeremy Roenick for 44th most all time.
- Defenseman Jan Hejda appeared in his 600th NHL contest.
- Zach Redmond played in his 50th NHL game. He was drafted and began his career with the Jets organization, playing in 18 games over two seasons, before signing with the Avalanche in the offseason.
- Semyon Varlamov made a career-high 10th straight start in net for Colorado. He has started 18 of the Avs' last 19 games.
- Manitoba native Cody McLeod had fights in the first and third periods against Winnipeg's Chris Thorburn. He now has 12 fighting majors this season and 102 in his career.