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Landeskog Seals Win With Key Goal

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog provided the dagger when his team needed it the most.

With the Pittsburgh Penguins carrying momentum after cutting their deficit to one goal on Wednesday night at Pepsi Center, Landeskog's highlight-reel tally with 5:03 remaining stopped the comeback by the visitors and secured a 3-1 victory for the Avalanche. It was Landeskog's third point of the game, tying a career high.

The Avs had held a comfortable 2-0 advantage early in the third period, but Evgeni Malkin's goal at 9:45 of the stanza gave the Penguins more life and a new urgency to tie the game.

Pittsburgh was having one of its best shifts of the night with solid screens in front of Avs goalie Semyon Varlamov, good puck movement and several quality shots that just missed wide.

But a bounce quickly turned the game the other way.

A cross-ice pass by Pittsburgh at Colorado's blue line hit a skate and allowed Ryan O'Reilly to pick up the loose puck and quickly move it up to Landeskog in the neutral zone. Coming in on Derrick Pouliot, Landeskog cut inside and past the Pittsburgh defenseman before snapping a shot by netminder Marc-Andre Fleury and inside the far post.

"It was kind of a one-on-one I guess," Landeskog said. "He was kind of on my side and I felt him toward me, and I cut back and kept going. Low blocker usually works on left-handed goalies so I tried that, and it worked."

Landeskog's 17th goal of the season capped off his first three-point game since March 25, 2014 at Nashville, and sucked the energy out of the Pens.

"That was a heck of move," Colorado head coach Patrick Roy said. "He made a really nice move in front of Pouliot. I'm sure we're going to see it in the highlights tonight."

The goal gave the Avs some much needed insurance against an Eastern Conference team that's in a battle for a division title and needed every point to keep up with the Rangers and Islanders in the standings.

"As soon as they scored, the pace went up," Landeskog said of the third period. "They kept coming and kept coming, and we got the third one, got a little breathing room. Obviously playing a team with that much offensive skill, you have to be on your toes every shift. You saw what happened when we let up one shift there, Malkin goes right down and scores. I think overall, we had a solid game, start to finish."

Landeskog's other two points came on assists in the second period. He fed a long pass to Jarome Iginla at the Pittsburgh blue line before the right wing blasted a shot past Fleury to open the scoring 13 seconds into the middle frame, and had the secondary assist on Nathan MacKinnon's goal at 14:29 of the stanza.

The three-point night brings his scoring total to 43 points on the season—tied for the team lead with Iginla—and gives him 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in his last 11 contests.

"You always want to help out the team," Landeskog said of his recent scoring stretch. "You always want to help out offensively, and I think for us it is just a matter of anybody helping [out] right now and stepping up. We know we have a lot of hockey games to win right now. Tonight is a good start for that."

HISHON BECOMES OFFICIAL

Joey Hishon, Colorado's 2010 first-round draft pick (No. 17 overall), officially inked his name in the NHL record books on Wednesday night as he appeared in his first regular-season contest. Hishon had previously appeared in three Stanley Cup Playoff contests last April in the Avs' series against the Minnesota Wild.

"It's exciting. I've waited a long time to play an NHL regular-season game so I've got to make the most of it and bring as much energy as I can and try and do whatever I can," Hishon said after morning skate.

Hishon's situation isn't all that uncommon, as teammate Jarome Iginla went through the exact same thing. Iginla played his first NHL game during the 1996 playoffs before making his regular-season debut the following year.

The 24-year-old, who was recalled by the Avalanche on Monday from Lake Erie, centered Colorado's fourth line with Cody McLeod and Marc-Andre Cliche on the wings. He finished the game with two shots, two hits and one takeaway in 8:05 of ice time.

"Joey played really well," Roy said. "He brought some speed to that fourth line."

TANGUAY PLAYS IN 1,000TH GAME

Alex Tanguay was honored before the game with the Penguins, which marked the 1,000th of his NHL career.

Tanguay was joined in the pregame ceremony with his wife, Helene, and children, Maya, Samuel and Blake. Samuel was the Avalanche Youth Skater for the game, and accompanied his father out of the Colorado locker room and onto the ice prior to the on-ice ceremony and national anthem.

"A great ovation and presentation from the crowd. When they introduced my son, I kept my head down there for a little bit (to watch him)," Tanguay said of the moment with Samuel. "Family is a big part of it, and they sacrifice a lot in order for you to do what you do. Certainly it was a little emotional to have him there. I wish my 2-year-old was able to skate. My daughter, she is not into hockey. She plays other sports.

"It was fun. I'm very thankful. As a kid, my dream was to play in the NHL. Playing one game was my goal, and here we are, a 1,000 games later. It was nice."

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog gave Helene flowers and Tanguay a custom engraved watch on behalf of his teammates to mark the occasion. Tanguay also received a Tiffany crystal from the NHL, presented by league representative Jim Gregory, before being given the traditional silver stick for reaching the century mark.

Milan Hejduk, a former Avalanche captain and Tanguay's old teammate and linemate, presented the stick. Tanguay and Hejduk, a fellow 1,000-gamer himself, played together for six seasons (1999 to 2006) with the Avs and are two of the eight players that have reached the milestone while in an Avalanche uniform (Adam Foote, Todd Gill, Ian Laperriere, Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic and Brad Stuart).

Tanguay is the 299th player in NHL history to play in 1,000 games.

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