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Leaders Step Up To Deliver 'Character Win' vs. Sens

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

When the Avalanche needed a goal, it was the leaders of the team who stepped up and delivered.

Captain Gabriel Landeskog and alternate captain Paul Stastny had points on the tying and winning goals, and Colorado earned what head coach Patrick Roy described as a "character win" over the Ottawa Senators.

The Avs had a 2-0 lead in the first period before the Senators scored three unanswered and held a one-goal advantage late in regulation. That was when the players with the letters sewed on to their sweaters took over the game.

"Landy showed why he is the captain of the team, Paul assistant captain; leaders of this team," Roy said after the game. "They showed great leadership by playing so well at the end of the game."

Landeskog and Stastny each had three-point nights with Landeskog tallying a career-high three assists while Stastny had the game-tying goal and two helpers. It was Stastny's second straight, three-point game after he also had a goal and two assists Monday against the Flames, and the center now has eight points (two goals, six assists) in his past three contests.

For Landeskog, he extended his career-high point streak to eight games (three goals, eight assists). It’s the longest point streak by an Avalanche player since Kevin Shattenkirk had a nine-game streak from Nov. 17 to Dec. 4, 2010.

Landeskog helped start the comeback with 2:20 remaining as he took a pass from Tyson Barrie at the Senators' blue line and drove to the net. Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson poked the puck away, but Stastny picked up the loose rubber and scored on a swooping shot around the netminder's right pad.

"I liked the play by Landy when he drove that net, and Paul picked up the loose puck," Roy said. "That is what we needed."

After having several good chances to win the game in the final minutes of the third period, Colorado only needed 33 seconds to pick up the extra point in overtime.

With time and space behind the Ottawa net, Stastny gathered the puck, saw Barrie wide-open at the right circle and fed him a quick pass. The defenseman then snapped a wrist shot top shelf to end the game 4-3 in the Avs' favor. It was Barrie's second multi-point game of the season and his second career overtime-winning goal (March 30, 2013 vs. Nashville).

"They hemmed us in there for awhile, but around seven minutes left I think we kind of turned it on and started pressing them and getting some chances," Barrie said of the Avalanche's final push. "You know, it’s a huge character win to come back like that and then get that in overtime, it was two big points for us.”

The game appeared to be heading down the same road as the Avs' last contest on Monday when they held a 2-0 lead before the Flames came back and won it late in the third period.

But this time, with the captains leading the way, it was not going to be the same end result.

"It was important to play a good game," Roy said. "I thought it was nice to be rewarded by the effort we put in at the end. … We found a way to win that game and that is what you want."


Alex Tanguay skated for the third consecutive day at the Avs' morning skate practice and seems to be making progress in his rehab as he even took drills with his teammates.

Tanguay has missed the past 30 games with knee and hip injuries and last played Nov. 2 against Montreal.

"He looked good. It's good for us," Roy said. "As long as things are going well for him, we're behind him on this. The only thing we can do is support our players."


Roy was forced to mix up his lines for Wednesday's game after forward Ryan O'Reilly and Nate Guenin were both out of the lineup with injuries.

O'Reilly missed his first contest of the season after suffering a shoulder injury in the third period of Monday's contest against Calgary. Guenin was out of the lineup for the second straight game with an ankle injury.

"You don't like to lose players, there's no doubt about it. Now we're starting to have a pretty good list," Roy said. "But at the same time that is why we call it a team. It's a team concept for us here, and everyone has to chip in."

Roy moved MacKinnon to the first scoring line with Matt Duchene at center and Jamie McGinn at left wing, while having Stastny at center and Landeskog and John Mitchell at wings on the second line.

Maxime Talbot moved to the third line with Cody McLeod and Marc-Andre Cliche, who got his first promotion from the fourth line this season. Roy's final forward line consisted of Brad Malone, Patrick Bordeleau and David Van Der Gulik.


Andre Benoit

Andre Benoit got his chance in the NHL with the Ottawa Senators, and while he has fond memories of playing his former club his focus was on getting the win with current squad on Wednesday.

"It's always fun to play against a bunch of guys that I played with for a year," Benoit said before the game. "It's a bit of a rivalry there; I want to win, they want to win, it's going to be fun."

After spending four seasons in the American Hockey League and three years playing in Europe, Benoit played 33 contests for the Senators in last season's shortened 48-game campaign. Often playing on Ottawa's top defensive pairing, he had 10 points during the regular season and three points (all assists) in five postseason games.

This season with the Avalanche, Benoit has played in 42 of 43 games and is second among defensemen in scoring with 15 points (two goals, 13 assists).


Avalanche forward David Van Der Gulik made his season debut after being recalled from Lake Erie on Tuesday.

It had been a tough first half of the season for Van Der Gulik as he missed all of Avalanche training camp in September because of knee surgery and then broke his foot early in his return to the ice for the Monster.

Now back to 100 percent, Van Der Gulik is riding a little momentum into his current NHL stint as had a hat trick last Saturday in Lake Erie's game against Milwaukee.

"I like to think that I have a little bit more confidence coming out of some solid games down in the minors and trying to build on it," Van Der Gulik said. "Bring some energy up here. I'm feeling good. I should be a little fresher, obviously having not played as many games as everyone."

Van Der Gulik spent Wednesday's game against the Senators on the Avs fourth line with Patrick Bordeleau and Brad Malone. He had two shots that almost tied the game in the third period, a hit and won a faceoff during his nine shifts in the game.

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