NEWARK, N.J.--Facing the New Jersey Devils, a stingy defensive team that had only allowed four goals entering Thursday, the Colorado Avalanche turned to its captain.
Gabriel Landeskog scored three goals and led the Avs to a 5-3 win over the Devils at Prudential Center. It was New Jersey's first loss of the season.
"When we were in a tough stretch and facing adversity, our captain steps up and leads the way," said defenseman Ian Cole. "That's why he's the captain, that's why he's our leader. Obviously, a lot of guys stepped up, but him especially."
It was the Stockholm, Sweden, native's third-career hat trick--tied for the fifth most in Avalanche history (since 1995-96).
His first tally was on the power play and his second of the night came after deflecting Cole's shot from the point. Landeskog somehow was able to get his stick on the flying puck while on his knees to tie the outing at 3-3.
Video: COL@NJD: Landeskog gets knocked down, tips in shot
"It's just a desperation play really," he said of the redirect. "You see the puck and you just try to hope that your stick is going to be long enough to get something on it and got lucky."
To wrap up the hat trick, Rantanen got the puck from behind the New Jersey net and found an open Landeskog, who released a quick wrister from the left circle that found twine. The marker stood as the game-winning goal, his second of the season.
"You just hope that Mikko is going to just give me the puck eventually," said Landeskog of goal No. 3. "You are just kind of hoping that he is going to just lay it in there for you, and he did. At that point, you are just kind of letting the mechanics of your shot take over and you don't try to think too much. You just aim sort of on the side of the net and ended up getting lucky."
Video: COL@NJD: Landeskog records hat trick, puts Avs ahead
The entire contest was back and forth, as the Devils and the Avs took turns finding the back of the net until the last 10 minutes of the third period.
"You fall behind in the third period and he grinds out two goals going to the net, doing everything right, playing to his identity," Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said of Landeskog. "I loved his game tonight. Right from the get-go. I think he had our team focused and ready to go, and I thought we were the aggressors to start the game.
"It was a good back-and-forth hockey game, there were some ups and some downs and some penalty trouble for both teams. We stuck with it and that has a lot to do with his leadership and the other guys' leadership in the room. Then we find a way to pull it out at the end, so real good game from him."
The ability for a young Colorado team to stay even keel through the ebbs and flows of the game is something the squad can look back on going forward.
"It's important to get a win like this when you stay patient and you just kind of work for everything you get," Landeskog said. "It just goes to show you it's something that builds character throughout the season, that you can always look back at this one and learn from it.
"Tell yourself that when you are down, just keep working, just stick to the game plan--tonight, we definitely got rewarded for it. We will have to take this one, and it will be a new bar that's set."
Video: Landeskog after his third career hat trick
MIKKO WITH ALL THE ASSISTS: With three assists and a goal, Mikko Rantanen now has 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) through the first seven games of the campaign. His 11 assists lead the NHL.
"When Mikko is skating--he is a big, strong guy--and when he is moving his feet, he is a lot to handle," Bednar said of the right wing. "What he can do is he can hold guys off. He has the talent and ability when he is holding guys off to create separation. He can get his head up and find the open man, so if you are doing the right things and you can talk a little bit, he will find you. He made some nice plays."
Rantanen has an assist in each contest his year, and his seven-game assist streak is the second longest to begin a season in franchise history (John-Michael Liles, nine games in 2010-11).
"He's got the confidence to go along with it now, and he is making plays consistently," Landeskog said of his linemate. "He is so strong and big to knock off the puck, so he is making plays and he is doing it really well."
Rantanen and fellow linemate Nathan MacKinnon have each registered at least a point in all seven of Colorado's games to start the new campaign. They are now the fifth different set of teammates in Avalanche/Nordiques history to simultaneously post a point streak of seven or more games to begin a season. The duo trails only Joe Sakic and Anton Stastny, who had an eight-game stretch in 1988-89 with Quebec.
The Avs' top line, which also includes Landeskog, combined for 10 points (four goals, six assists) in the contest against New Jersey.
SVEN'S SEASON DEBUT: After missing the first six games of the campaign with a leg injury, Sven Andrighetto made his 2018-19 season debut in the contest against the Devils.
The Zurich, Switzerland, native scored Colorado's first goal of the game to tie the contest at 1-1 at 1:17 of the second frame.
Video: COL@NJD: Andrighetto scores in return from injury
"Very excited, I mean it's been a while for me to suit up," Andrighetto said before the contest. "Just watching the games from the stands, it was hurting a little bit. Obviously, I want to be out there with the team and help them win games. Even more excited right now to be able to be a part of it."
He finished the night with the goal and three shots in 10:35 of ice time.
COLE RECORDS HIS 100TH POINT: Cole had two assists in the game to bring his career point total to 100 (20 goals, 80 assists).
His two assists tie a career high; it was the 10th time he's recorded two assists in a game and the 15th outing in which he has registered two points.
"Not exactly my forte, but that's nice," the defenseman said of the scoring milestone.
MORE GAME NOTES: Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves to pick up his first win in an Avalanche sweater after being acquired by the team in the offseason.
Colorado was 1-for-6 on the power play and has scored a goal with the man advantage in six of its first seven games. The Avs are 7-for-27 (25.9 percent) on the power play overall this season and 5-for-17 (29.4 percent) on the road, which ranks seventh in the league.
Mikko Rantanen's tally was the Avalanche's fourth empty-net goal this season, the most of any team in the NHL.