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Maturity A Factor In Second-Half Push

by Ryan Boulding / Colorado Avalanche

Maturity, not without a bit of swagger, is what the Colorado Avalanche was hoping to add when it brought in veteran players like Daniel Briere, Brad Stuart and Jarome Iginla over the summer.

These are guys that have played the game for years and know the intricacies required to have success at the top level of the sport. Add in returning skaters Alex Tanguay, Maxime Talbot and Jan Hejda, and there is a veritable mix of youth and experience on the Avalanche roster.

So it should come as no surprise that the Avalanche remained cool and calm as the Florida Panthers evened the score twice on Thursday night. The visiting squad—in the midst of a five-game road trip—didn’t panic, remained patient and then scored two goals to seal a big victory.

“I think we played a mature game, and when the game was on the line we kept pushing. And without making a risky decision… I think we played smart and kind of waited for the opportunities,” Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog said of the win. “When we got the opportunity, we cashed in on the power play and were able to win the game. I think it was a mature game.

“It’s easy to get frustrated when they tie it up right after we score both times, but really we kept going and kept pushing and [stuck] with the plan, and it worked.”

The zen-like philosophy of staying calm and putting in a full three periods worth of work, regardless of if some air leaks out when a game is evened up or a lead is lost, is exactly what the Avalanche is looking to do in games moving forward, including tonight on the road against the white-hot Tampa Bay Lightning.

“I think we’ve got to have a good start. Got to try to play 60 minutes as well. I feel if we play a solid 60 minutes we’re going to be in every game and have a good chance to win,” said Talbot. “Going to have to focus on that, play a mature game, play very hard and start the game on the right foot, I think.”

Attention to the simple details, the utmost root of the game—playing the basics—is where Colorado finds to most firepower on both sides of the puck.

“We’re a very dangerous team when we go. Sometimes we’ve been caught maybe thinking too much or trying to force some plays that are not there,” said Talbot. “I think the third period was the best example… for us. We kept it simple, we did the little things right and that definitely, I think, got us the win.”

Tampa is a top-five club in the East with no lack of weaponry among both the forward and defensive pairings. The Avs will certainly have their hands full tonight at Amalie Arena, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t up to the challenge.

According to Talbot, early-season adversity has the Avalanche aware of its capabilities moving forward.

“What we went through in the first half of the season is a good thing for this team ‘cause we know now, when we get in a tough spot, what to do to get out of it,” he said. “I think it’s going to make us a better team for the second half of the season as well.”

The puck drops at 5 p.m. MT.


HALIFAX REUNION

There will be a reunion of sorts tonight in Tampa Bay when the Avalanche squares off against the Lightning. Former teammates turned foes will faceoff for their respective clubs in the hunt for higher ground in the race for the postseason.

MacKinnon

Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon and Tampa Bay rookie Jonathan Drouin played on a line together with the Halifax Mooseheads, winning the Memorial Cup with the club during the 2012-13 season, before being selected just spots apart at the 2013 NHL Draft.

Both were point-scoring machines during their last season together in Halifax. MacKinnon, drafted first overall, finished the regular campaign with 32 goals and 43 assists through 44 games while Drouin, the third-overall pick, tallied 41 goals and 64 helpers in matches.

MacKinnon was named Memorial Cup MVP at the end of the year while Drouin was named CHL Player of the Year.

This is the first time the friends will face each other in the NHL.


BERRA SCORES

It’s not everyday that a goalie takes an actual shot at the opposing net, let alone scores a goal, but Reto Berra managed to do just that last night in Chicago with the Lake Erie Monsters. Leading the Chicago Wolves 3-1 with 1:30 left to play, Berra blocked a long shot from the center red line, dropping the puck to his stick before firing a long-range missile down the ice.

Berra

If he was shooting the biscuit during an intermission contest for a new car, he’d be driving in style, as Berra’s shot was dead center of the net when it found the twine. Berra then proceeded to skate to the bench for the usual fist-bumping as if he were any other player on the ice.

Berra, in the midst of a five-game, two-week conditioning assignment, is the 11th AHL goaltender to tally a goal, and the seventh to score one on an actual shot down the ice.

The tally was the first goalie-scored goal in Monsters franchise history.

Lake Erie went on to win 4-1.

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