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Iginla One Goal Away From Milestone

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

Jarome Iginla is just one step away from joining a club that only 18 other players are members of.

The Colorado Avalanche right wing scored his 599th career NHL goal on Sunday night against the Arizona Coyotes at Pepsi Center, setting the stage for the milestone 600th that could occur as soon as Monday in San Jose.

However, just as thrilling as it was for Iginla to to see the puck go in against the Coyotes, it was also a sobering reminder for the veteran and the rest of his teammates that they weren't able to score a second one and ended up losing 2-1 in overtime.

"At the time, it feels great and it's exciting. Definitely feel blessed to be near 600, but you're trying to just help win the game," Iginla said of his goal. "Wasn't able to do that there in the third. I was on (the ice) for the other one against. After that, you leave it and you hope [600] comes sooner rather than later, but it's more just helping the team win."

Arizona's Michael Stone tied the game early in the third period and Mikkel Boedker won the contest with 43 seconds left in the extra frame.

The Avalanche had plenty of opportunities to extend its lead and win its first game after the Holiday Break. Colorado outshot Arizona 39-28 and held a 13-6 shot advantage in the third period.

"We had great chances. They got that one in the third, and I thought we rebounded after that and put a lot of pressure on them and had a lot of scoring chances," said Iginla, who finished tied for the team lead with six shots. "For a bit there we were trading (scoring chances), we didn’t want to trade, and I thought we settled it down a bit. Overtime, it's hard. Whoever gets possession, you're almost creating a scoring chance out of it. It's tough to not get that win."

Head coach Patrick Roy echoed Iginla's thoughts that the team did a lot of good things to create offense after having five days off.

"I thought we played a good game. I was happy with the way we played the game," Roy said. "Obviously, I would like to see us scoring goals and find ways to put the puck behind the goal line. That's what we're going to have to do."

However, what the Colorado bench boss wasn't pleased with was the way his troops played the 3-on-3 overtime.

"I wasn't happy with the way we played the 3-on-3," said Roy. "We played it like it was an All-Star Game. We have to be aware going on the rush. The length of our shifts was way too long, and we had no energy coming back. It was not smart from our guys by the way we played that overtime."

Iginla's 10th goal of the season came with 2:53 left in the first period and midway through the club's second power play of the evening. The 38-year-old fought for a loose puck in the slot and backhanded a shot toward the net. The puck then deflected off the skate of Arizona defenseman Klas Dahlbeck and slid across the goal line.

Colorado has now scored first in nine consecutive games and has tallied the opening goal in 24 of their 36 contests, the most in the NHL.

"We were ready to go. We were into it, and it was a good atmosphere here tonight," Iginla said. "It was a solid first (period) after the (holiday) break. We gave ourselves a chance to win. Unfortunately, it didn't go our way."

Iginla's power-play tally was the 181st of his 1,428-game career, and it tied him with Mike Bossy for 26th place on the NHL's all-time power-play goals list. Next up in that category is Alex Ovechkin at 183.

The Avalanche alternate captain will also have the chance to make some strides on the all-time goals list as Jari Kurri (601), Dino Ciccarelli (608) and Bobby Hull (610) are all within striking distance this season.

GRIGORENKO PLAYS IN 100TH GAME

Mikhail Grigorenko has found some stability with the Avalanche and is becoming a regular in an NHL lineup. He reached his first major games-played milestone on Sunday as he appeared in his 100th NHL contest.

"I'm really happy to have already played that many games," Grigorenko said before the outing. "Obviously it's not as many as other great players, but it's a good milestone and hopefully I'll be able to get to 200, 300, 400 and as many as possible. It's great. Growing up, I was dreaming of playing in the NHL and to already play 100 games, it's great."

The 21-year-old has skated in 32 of the Avs' 36 games this season. In his three previous NHL campaigns with the Buffalo Sabres, the most Grigorenko played in a year was 25 contests (twice) before he was eventually reassigned back to junior or the minors.

Colorado acquired the forward in a trade during the offseason, and the Khabarovsk, Russia, native has already posted a career high with 11 points (a goal and 10 assists).

He credits playing and watching veteran teammates, like current linemates Cody McLeod and Jack Skille, in helping with his development over the past four years.

"I think I've grown a lot. Got more mature and learned a lot of things on and off the ice, especially learning from great players that I have played with and still playing (with)," Grigorenko said. "Every day as a young guy, you learn a lot of things from the older guys. It's a great experience."

QUICK TRIP TO SAN JOSE

There was no lollygagging in the Avalanche locker room after the game, as the players and coaches had a flight to catch.

The team quickly packed up at Pepsi Center and headed to the airport for a one-game trip out west against the San Jose Sharks. The Avs will face the Sharks at 8:30 p.m. MT on Monday in their fifth back-to-back set of the season.

Colorado faced San Jose earlier in the year on Nov. 1 in Denver, with the Sharks pulling out a 4-3 victory. The two clubs will meet a total of four times in 2015-16.

Goaltender Calvin Pickard, who was recalled from the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League on Dec. 25, is slated to make his first start of the season for the Avalanche. He has played in two games this year, both coming in relief appearances.

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