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Postgame Wrap-Up: Soderberg Tallies First Career Hat Trick

Avalanche's line changes paid off in win against the Toronto Maple Leafs

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

TORONTO--Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar mixed up three of his four forward combinations looking to spark his club offensively.

He got exactly what he wanted Tuesday night as the Avalanche defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3 in a game at Scotiabank Arena that was punctuated by a three-goal performance from Carl Soderberg.

Soderberg scored his first career NHL hat trick while centering a new group of linemates that included J.T. Compher and Colin Wilson on his wings.

"He had a great game, all around, both sides of the puck," Bednar said of Soderberg's play. "Just real firm on the puck when he had it. In battles, strong, created a lot of opportunities for himself and for his linemates. I just thought he was in the right spot all night long. I was really happy with how that line played."

In addition to his three tallies, the Malmo, Sweden, native also had five shots on goal and one big takeaway to put the Avs ahead after they fell down 2-0 early in the second period.

Colorado rallied from the deficit with quick markers from Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen midway through the middle frame before Soderberg scored on a highlight reel-worthy goal with 5:31 left in the stanza.

With the Avs on the penalty kill, the center chased down the puck in the Leafs' zone, powered his way past Toronto D-man Jake Gardiner to steal it and fired a wrist shot far side into the goal while drawing a penalty and falling to the ice.

Video: COL@TOR: Soderberg steals puck, chips in SHG

"I could feel that he wasn't really going at the puck, so I hoped I had a chance to catch him before he [got to it], and I did," Soderberg recalled. "Just tried to get a shot off."

It was Soderberg's second short-handed goal of the season and the third of his career. More importantly, it put momentum firmly on the Avalanche's side with the club up 3-2 heading into the second intermission.

"It was an amazing play," Wilson said of Colorado's fifth shorty of the season. "I think everyone was excited for him. It was a special play, big-body play."

Toronto knotted the contest at 3-3 in the third frame, but Soderberg's second of the night gave the Avs back the advantage after pressure from Compher and Wilson freed up the puck from below the goal line.

"I think we did a good job on the forecheck," Wilson said of the eventual game-winning tally by Soderberg. "That second guy in and that is what resulted in Carl's goal. [Soderberg] went into the slot, and Comph found him. I think we played hard all night, and we got a goal as a result."

The forward completed the hat trick with the team's second empty-netter of the evening, as his shot from the opposite goal line went in with 1:42 left to play.

"We're up two goals, of course I [went] for it," Soderberg said of his nearly 200-foot shot.

Video: COL@TOR: Soderberg collects first career hatty

Soderberg's night was an exhibit of the strong game the Avalanche played against the Maple Leafs. The team received contributions throughout its roster and finished the contest with a 38-20 edge in shots.

The victory ended a three-game skid for Colorado, which outshot its opponents by a combined 104-68 during that stretch

"I think we played pretty good from the start," Soderberg noted of the win in Toronto. "Even when they scored that second goal, you could feel on the bench that we were going tonight. Glad we could get the win here tonight."

The Avalanche's other line changes included Alexander Kerfoot taking Soderberg's previous spot at center on a trio with Matt Calvert and Matt Nieto, while Sven Andrighetto, Sheldon Dries and Tyson Jost comprised another grouping.

Colorado's top unit of Nathan MacKinnon, Landeskog and Rantanen, who have combined for 75 goals and 187 points this season, remained intact for the outing versus the Leafs.

"I thought all four lines played well today and created lots of scoring chances," Soderberg said. "We outshot them pretty good the first two periods and then they had a little push in the third. At the same time, I think we came back stronger and scored the game-winner."

BIG Z BACK IN: Nikita Zadorov returned to the Avs' lineup after missing 10 games with a lower-body injury. He was paired on defense with Mark Barberio and finished the night with 20:05 of ice time, four shots, seven hits and four penalty minutes.

It was Zadorov's first game since Dec. 19 against the Montreal Canadiens.

"For sure, it's always tough when you're teammates are playing and you cannot," he said after morning skate. "It doesn't matter if they're winning or losing. It's always tough on you because you want to be out there and help them but you're not."

The Moscow, Russia, native began the Avs' season-long road trip back in Colorado, skating on his own with the club's trainers. He rejoined the team for practice on Friday in Montreal and skated three times with the assistant coaches before being cleared to play.

NEMETH RETURNS, KIND OF: After being away from the club for four days while sick, defenseman Patrik Nemeth returned to the Avs and took the ice with his teammates for morning skate in Toronto.

Though Nemeth skated, he did not dress against the Maple Leafs, marking the second straight contest that he missed. He last played on Wednesday at the Calgary Flames.

Forward Gabriel Bourque and defenseman Ryan Graves were Colorado's other scratches.

MORE POSTGAME NOTES: Soderberg is the fourth player in Avalanche/Nordiques franchise history to score a hat trick against the Maple Leafs, joining Miroslav Frycer on Oct. 7, 1981, Michel Goulet on Oct. 26, 1982 and Owen Nolan on Nov. 26, 1992.

Soderberg's hat trick was the second of the season for Colorado (Gabriel Landeskog, Oct. 18, 2018 at New Jersey).

The Avalanche scored six or more goals in a game for the ninth time this season. Only two teams have more games with six or more goals in 2018-19 (Tampa Bay, 11 and Calgary, 10). It's the most games in which Colorado has scored six or more goals in since 1996-97 (12 games).

Colorado scored three goals in the third period and now has 66 markers in the final frame of regulation, second only to the Calgary Flames (72) in third-period scoring. 

Semyon Varlamov is now 3-0-2 in five career starts in Toronto.

Gabriel Landeskog notched his 28th goal of the season, which ranks fifth (tied) in the NHL.

Mikko Rantanen scored his 21st goal of the season to bring his point total to 69, tied with Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau and Edmonton's Connor McDavid for second in the NHL.

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