The comeback. It’s something that the Colorado Avalanche is known for. It’s even become a staple of the game that the Avs play, and the comeback came close to bringing the Avalanche it’s third straight win on Thursday night against the Washington Capitals.
Colorado responded twice on the night to even the score against Washington after trailing by a goal each time, but a final third-period comeback fell short in a 3-2 loss at Pepsi Center.
“I think that’s big for us. I think we’ve done it the last few games we’ve been down, and we’ve found ways to come back and win,” said rear guard Tyson Barrie after the match. “We battled back again tonight. Unfortunately we couldn’t pull it out, but I think… we’re making some good strides.”
The Avs fell behind early in the second period after Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom ripped a shot past Avs netminder Reto Berra and into the back of the net. The lead was short-lived however, as veteran forward Daniel Briere spurred the first return tally of the evening nearly two minutes later, hammering home a rebound off a Nathan MacKinnon shot to tie the contest.
The same thing happened again early in the third period. Barrie tapped in a Gabriel Landeskog centering pass to nullify another Washington lead, using his speed to burn into the zone to support his forwards.
“We were down most of the game so it kind of gives me more of an opportunity to get involved and get in the play,” said Barrie. “That’s what I’m here for, and that’s what I’ll continue to try to do.”
Barrie went straight to the net and was rewarded with a redirection opportunity. The simple play is exactly what head coach Patrick Roy says he wants to see more of moving forward.
“Obviously, offensively we’re going to have to simplify our game. I think we’re looking too much for the perfect play right now, and we’re going to have to just put pucks on net like we did on that goal,” Roy said. “Both goals were a great second effort by our guys. Landy made a great play bringing it across to Barrie. That was a great second effort by him, and it was a great job by Tyson driving that net. We need to do more of these.”
While it might not seem like it on paper, the Avalanche defense was largely successful on the evening, keeping the game within reach until the very end.
“I thought we were outstanding defensively. We gave them only 23 shots. We were certainly pleased with the performance we had in our own end,” said Roy. “Obviously, too bad we [could not] score toward the end. We had our chances, plenty of looks, but we just couldn’t. I thought we had a great third period as well.”
“I thought we actually played a pretty solid game. They had that four-on-four goal at the end there. It was unfortunate. I think they got a lucky bounce off the end boards or whatever, and it kind of put us behind when I thought we played a pretty good game,” said Barrie, who sees progress in the team’s current play. “We’re making strides. I think we’ve played better the last two games. You’ve got to give them credit, they played a solid game tonight.”
The Avalanche felt it was the stronger team on Thursday night, which makes the loss a little tougher to swallow.
“I know it’s a tough situation losing a game where you think you played a good game, but sometimes those things happen,” said Roy. “We need to stick to it, because I think there’s a lot of positives in the way we’ve been playing, especially defensively. You keep [to] 23 shots on net, you’re going to win some games.”
A late goal by Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin was the difference maker on the night. The play was a great effort by the Washington captain, who missed the net on his first shot but got the puck back and quickly snuck it behind a sprawling Berra for the eventual game-winner.
“We’ve seen that move a hundred times. He’s beat a lot of guys with it. He made a great move and fired it wide and got a good bounce off the end boards and was able to tap it in,” said Barrie. “There’s not much you can do on that one. It’s a bit frustrating, but I think we’re taking some strides as a team and we’re going in the right direction.”
Said Berra: “It was a good play by him, not really a good play by me. I went down really early, so I was late on the second shot. I’m not really happy today with that game. I think I could stop each of those goals. It was also good plays by the players. I have to respect that too. For sure we deserved more today.”
The Avalanche returns to action against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Pepsi Center.
The Colorado Avalanche lost two players to injury on Thursday night.
Alex Tanguay was the unfortunate recipient of a blocked shot from Alex Ovechkin. The puck came up and caught Tanguay on the side of the face. He left the ice under his own accord, but immediately went off for treatment. He did not return.
“I haven’t seen him yet, but like everyone, I saw he got the puck on the jaw,” said Roy. “We’ll know more, I guess, tomorrow.”
Forward Dennis Everberg also left the contest in the third period after a big collision with Tom Wilson along the boards. There has been no update on Everberg’s status.
Adjusting the ‘D’
The Avalanche made some defensive adjustments on Nov. 5, a day before a big 4-3 shootout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the new game plan has been paying off for the club.
“We’re very happy. I think it became a pretty important adjustment,” said Roy of the changes. “You always want to make some adjustments as a coach.
The Avs outshot the Caps 29-23 on Thursday night, including by a 21-14 margin in the final two periods.
“In those games, it seems like we possessed the puck more, and it seems to make a difference. It was important, but at the end of the day, no matter what you’re doing, you have to be good in one-on-one battles and I think our guys have been extremely good in their one-on-one battles. I think it helps our defense at the same time.”