Looking for a change of pace heading out on the road for a three-game road swing through the Eastern Conference, the Colorado Avalanche ran into a ready and waiting Florida Panthers squad and dropped the first match in a 4-1 loss.
Special teams were the difference on the night, as the Avalanche’s fifth-ranked power play (25 percent) went 0-for-5 on the man advantage while the Panthers sent Colorado’s fifth-ranked penalty kill (88.9 percent) packing by tallying on all three opportunities.
“Our power play didn’t move the puck well,” head coach Patrick Roy said after the game. “We had a hard time [making] tape-to-tape passes. We kept it pretty much outside instead of attacking the net, and then their power play moved the puck well and they scored. That was the difference in the game.
“The players who are on the power play, they know it’s not enough for us to win hockey games. They have to be better.
“We need to simplify things. We need to put pucks at the net. We need to jam the net. We need to be more hungry around the net, and this is how our power play is going to produce.”
Despite maintaining a 1-0 score through 40 minutes of play, the Avs struggled to find the back of the net and it cost them. It wasn’t until the final minute of play, when captain Gabriel Landeskog converted on his second shot of the game, that the club was able to break the shutout and solve netminder Roberto Luongo.
“We need goals. We need wins,” rear guard Erik Johnson said. “You can get all the moral victories in the world, but we got to make sure we’re putting some pucks in and getting some goals here.
“We’re in a result oriented business, so we have to make sure we’re playing hard. This is crucial.”
Landeskog’s tally served as a historic moment for the 22-year-old Swede, who hit the 200-point mark in the early goings of his fifth season in the NHL. Landeskog, who has topped 30 points in four of his five years in the league—he played just 36 games during the shortened 2012-13 campaign—now has 85 goals and 115 assists in 288 contests.
Although Colorado only managed the lone goal, Roy said he was encouraged by his team’s performance at even strength.
“I was pleased with our 5-on-5 game. We managed our game well. We did a lot of good things,” said Roy. “But [that’s] the way it is right now. When the power play’s clicking, it’s the 5-on-5 that’s not going well. Tonight, our 5-on-5 does well and then our PK and our power play does not. We just need to put everything together. That’s what we’re missing right now.
“It’s not the way we want to start, but the positive is our 5-on-5 was solid. I like to think that’s positive, and I like to think we’re going in the right direction.”
There aren’t many players currently playing in the NHL that have skated in 1,400 or more games, but Colorado Avalanche veteran Jarome Iginla joined their company on Tuesday night as he took the ice at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida.
|Jarome Iginla |
Iginla and just two others—Jaromir Jagr (1559) and Shane Doan (1403)—are the only active players to have appeared in 1,400 or more contests. In fact, the 38-year-old Avalanche right wing became the 35th player in league history to reach the milestone.
“I've been very, very blessed in my career and fortunate to play as long as I have,” Iginla said before taking the ice. “Still having a lot of fun, and I think as you get older you appreciate every game a little bit more.”
A legend around the NHL, Iginla has 1,231 career points, placing him just one behind Phil Housley for 38th in the league’s all-time scoring annals. Iginla’s marathon race through the history books includes a third-place ranking among active players in goals (592) as well.
With eight more tallies, Iginla would become the 19th player to reach 600 markers—a feat he could easily reach with the Avs in the near future. Still clearly an impact player, Iginla finished the 2014-15 season leading the Avalanche in goals (29) and points (59-tied). He was one of five Avs forwards to top 50 points that year.
The alternate captain has 12 seasons with 30 or more goals under his belt—15 with 25 or more tallies—and 16 campaigns with 50 or more points scored.
Iginla joins Dale Hunter as the only other player to reach the 1,400-match milestone while playing as a member of the Avalanche.
Colorado rear guard Tyson Barrie returned to action Tuesday night after serving a three-game suspension.
"It was frustrating. Three games doesn’t seem like much, but when you're sitting out it seems like a long time," Barrie said after Monday's practice at Family Sports Center. "It's kind of unfortunate that the stretch of games we had seemed to be spaced out a bit. It was definitely a long wait for me, so I'm excited to get back in there."
The mandatory hiatus came after the league's Department of Player Safety determined he interfered with and charged Anaheim Ducks defenseman Simon Despres during an Oct. 16 contest.
Barrie’s return was noticed by fellow defenseman Erik Johnson, who admitted that the added offense from the back end was a welcomed addition.
“Having Tyson back helps me out a ton. Helps the team out a ton,” Johnson said. “He’s got a lot of jump tonight. He’s playing really well. Just adds another element to our team. He’s doing a great job tonight.”
Barrie finished the night with four shots, one hit and a team-high 23:12 of ice time—which included a team-leading 6:15 on the power play.
“All things considered, I felt pretty good,” Barrie said. “You don't want to be sitting in the stands ever.”
The 24-year-old blueliner registered 53 points (12 goals and 41 assists) last season to become the first defenseman on the club to reach the 50-point mark since Rob Blake in 2001-02. So far, he has two assists through five games this year.