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Landeskog Makes Immediate Impact In Return

by Ryan Boulding / Colorado Avalanche

It was three up, three down for the Colorado Avalanche, which won thrice on the latest road swing to pick up a valuable six points in the race for the eighth and final postseason berth in the Western Conference.

The club won 3-1 in Vancouver on Wednesday, 4-3 in the shootout in Calgary on Friday and 3-2 in Edmonton on Sunday.

Having missed three straight games while serving a suspension, Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog made an immediate impact upon his return to the lineup. He was bullish, strong on the puck, tenacious on the penalty kill and finished the night with a goal, an assist, four shots, three more attempts on net and three hits in 19:01 of ice time.

“It’s tough watching, especially with all the bag skates and all the tough workouts you have to do,” Landeskog said of his time out. “Obviously, I felt like I was hungry and ready to go, but the guys have done a great job throughout the road trip here making sure that we’re in a good spot. I was just hungry to come out and help out.”

Ravenous to pick up where he left off, and rolling with the confidence of a team that is clicking, Landeskog and his linemates, Carl Soderberg and Shawn Matthias, really took it to the Oilers.

“He played a strong game,” head coach Patrick Roy said of Landeskog. “That line was really good. They were playing really well before the suspension, but they had a strong night. They’re tough to play against. They’re big, they hold onto the puck. It’s hard to take the puck away from them. Their puck protection was really good tonight.”

Colorado was fully in control of its own destiny.

This was evident mere minutes after Landeskog had scored the opening tally just 1:19 into the middle stanza. Netminder Calvin Pickard was called upon to do what he does best in that moment. The Oilers sent a tricky shot his direction, and he charged out and made a fashionable and determined stop to keep his team ahead.

“There’s going to be pressure points in games where you have to come up with saves—after we score, after they score—and that’s the difference in hockey games,” the Winnipeg, Manitoba, native said. “I’m just glad that I could pitch in and help us win tonight.”



Pickard continued to do that all evening, keeping almost everything out of his cage until Edmonton beat him through a screen with just eight ticks left on the game clock.

“I saw pretty much all the shots,” Pickard said of his effort. “It was tough to give up that goal late. It was really a 3-1 game, but they got that one late. It would have been nice to have that one, but all the way through, the PK was huge. I saw all the shots on the PK, and [they were] clearing rebounds in front of me. It was great.”

“He played solid. He’s been solid for us all year,” Landeskog said of the goalie. “There were a couple of big, tough saves he had to make in the second there when we scored to make it 1-0, and they had a couple tips and redirects in front of the net. He stayed calm back there, and he’s playing extremely well. So big win all around.”

Added Roy: “We’re trusting Picks. He’s been playing really well for us. He’s competing out there, deserves a lot of credit for it. I thought we defended well though in front of him as well.”

Ultimately, it was a team effort that sealed Colorado’s 21st victory on the road this season. The penalty kill was 100 percent, stopping all four of Edmonton’s opportunities, and the power play went 1-for-2. At even strength, the Avs were the better team, out-attempting the Oilers 46-40.

When Edmonton pressed to make it a 2-1 game, the Avalanche struck back to keep a nice cushion.

“We played really well. I liked our start, I thought we had a great start. Our power play was outstanding,” Roy said. “Puck possession was outstanding. We were on the puck in the O-zone, and we had a lot of shots. I was very happy with the performance of the team.”

“It was great. It was a full 60,” Pickard added. “It was start to finish; PK was good, PP was huge. It’s a feel-good win for us.

“It’s nice to cap off the road trip with three wins.”

Landeskog’s trio wasn’t the only line to earn praise from Roy after the game. The coach said he also liked the effort from the combination of Blake Comeau, Mikkel Boedker and Mikhail Grigorenko.

“Comeau and Boedker and Grigo did a really nice job,” Roy said. “I thought they had some chances. I thought they played well, and [John] Mitchell had a big block for us toward the end of the game. I thought it was a solid performance from our team.”

Boedker, who assisted on defenseman Tyson Barrie’s second-period marker, now has seven points (three goals, four assists) in nine games with the Avalanche since he was acquired from Arizona ahead of the trade deadline on Feb. 29.

Barrie tied his career high goal output (13) with the tally and now has five goals and two assists in three games versus Edmonton this season. His 47 points, 13 goals and 34 assists through 69 games pace Avs defensemen in each category.

Comeau recorded the eventual game-winner, his 99th career marker, on the power play.

While the final result somewhat betrays the effort that went into it. Roy said that none of that matters.

“I don’t really care about the score, quite honestly. It’s how we played,” he said. “We’re leaving Edmonton feeling good about ourselves. That’s what matters to us.”


100 APPLES

With his assist on Gabriel Landeskog’s first-period tally, fellow Swede Carl Soderberg recorded his 100th career helper.

Carl Soderberg
Center  - COL
Goals: 12 | Assists: 35 | Pts: 47
Shots: 148 | +/-: -5
Soderberg said after that game that while he doesn’t focus on individual accomplishments during the season, he was aware of the potential to reach the century mark on Sunday thanks to a heads up from Matt Duchene.

Soderberg started the campaign off with an apple in his Avalanche debut on Oct. 8 and hasn’t stopped yet. He now has 35 on the season, good for the team lead in assists.

The milestones have continued to roll in this season for the 30-year-old center. Soderberg recorded his 100th career point on Nov. 1 against the San Jose Sharks, appeared in his 200th NHL contest on Jan. 2 versus the Calgary Flames and scored his first short-handed goal on Jan. 23 at the Dallas Stars.

Soderberg also tied his career-long point streak (four games) from Dec. 7-13, tied his personal best for points in one game (one goal, two assists) on Dec. 28 at San Jose and led the Avs in scoring during the month of December with 11 points (three goals, eight assists).

Over one-third of Soderberg’s apples have come with the Avs, and he’s now just one point shy of matching his career high total (48), set during the 2013-14 season with the Boston Bruins.

Soderberg also owns the Avalanche’s longest active ironman streak with 160 consecutive games played.

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