Jan Hejda scored with 7.6 seconds remaining to lift the Avalanche past the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday afternoon at Pepsi Center. But while Hejda was credited with his first goal of the season and his fourth career game-winning goal, it would not have been possible if it weren’t for a great team effort.
It all started with 24 seconds left as the Avs pushed the pace up the ice and dumped the puck deep in the Canucks zone, giving themselves an opportunity to get the last shot.
Vancouver goalie Cory Schneider met the puck behind his net and swung it around the boards to a teammate, who chipped it towards the blue line. However instead of going out of the zone, Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie met the puck – a tough one to handle since it was bouncing – at the point and flipped it through the air to David Jones.
Jones grabbed the puck, dropped it to the ice and made his way through the slot and to the left circle before passing it to Hejda at the blue line.
As the puck came to him, Hejda was already reaching his stick back for a slap shot and fired a laser to the back of the net, beating Schneider over his right shoulder.
“There’s not too much time for us, and they’re doing a great job of blocking shots,” Hejda said of the team’s scoring sequence. “I’m trying to shoot a one-timer.”
His shot wasn’t anything special, and is a routine save by Schneider and most NHL goalies. However to give the puck a better chance of going in, Cody McLeod crashed the net as Hejda was winding up and crossed in front of the Vancouver goalie’s eye-sight as the puck was released from Hejda's stick – screening Schneider and forcing him to guess where it was going.
"I never really saw it," Schneider said to NHL.com of Hejda's shot. "I looked short side early and he wasn't quite stepping into it. I peered on the other side and by that time he had let go on the short side. It was a pretty good screen in front, a pretty quick developing play and all of a sudden it's in the back of the net."
The winning-goal was a culmination of a hard-working third period by the Avalanche, who entered the stanza down 3-2 but got shots on net early and was rewarded when McLeod punched in a goal at 2:02.
Vancouver responded with a score 1:25 later, but Colorado kept at it and tied the game 4-4 when PA Parenteau received a pass from Matt Duchene in the slot and whacked the puck in with 7:03 remaining.
“They came out in the third [period], we maybe thought they were going to fold, but they came out hard, they outcompeted us,” said Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin. “That can’t happen. That is why they beat us. You can blame it on a system, or turnovers, or whatever, but they outworked us.”
Said Parenteau: “We finally got rewarded in the third period. That’s the story tonight.”
Jiggy Picks Up Win No. 250
Avalanche goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 24 saves to earn his fourth win of the season and his 250th of his career in Saturday’s victory.
He is now tied with Hall-of-Famer Johnny Bower for 45th place on the all-time wins list and becomes the10th active goaltender to reach the 250-win mark.
The matinee contest was also his 572nd career game. He passes Glenn "Chico" Resch (571) for sole possession of 46th place on the all-time list for games played by a goaltender.
Giguere has appeared in the last four games – appearing in relief on Thursday in Los Angeles – and has a 2-1-1 record.
Strong Home PK Continues
Colorado killed off both penalties they took in the game and have now allowed just one power-play goal in the last four games, killing 14-of-15 (93.3 percent) shorthanded chances.
The Avs have now killed off 11 straight penalties at Pepsi Center and sport the best home penalty kill unit in the league at 91.4 percent (74-of-81).
The last opponent power-play goal that Colorado has given up on home ice came in the first period of the April 5 game against the Detroit Red Wings.
•Today was the eighth and final afternoon game of the season for Colorado…The Avs finished 4-1-0 in day games at home and 4-3-1 in afternoon contests overall.
•The Avalanche finished the season series 1-3-0 against the Canucks…Today’s victory snapped a 10-game winless streak for Colorado against Vancouver (0-8-2).
•P.A. Parenteau scored his 16th goal of the year, tying Matt Duchene for the team lead…P.A. already leads the club in assists (24) and points (40).
•Daniel Sedin appeared in his 900th career game this afternoon.
•Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault coached his 799th career game.