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Third-Period Mistakes Cost Avs

by Ryan Boulding / Colorado Avalanche

Hockey is a game of chances. Sometimes you create the opportunities and other times you have to wait for them.

For the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night, the patience paid off.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying. The visiting club entered the third period in Denver trailing the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 and left the final stanza with a 4-2 victory.

The difference? Making the most of a few chances.

“We’re in control of the game, and it’s a pretty tight game,” Alex Tanguay said of the vibe entering the remaining frame. “They skate pretty good, but we played well defensively. Then we made a couple mistakes where it cost us the game. Very frustrating.”

Sure, a team that is trailing is going to start firing the puck in order to get the equalizer. That’s what the Penguins did, starting with a 13-4 shot differential in the second period. Still, the final score, as Tanguay saw it, was the result of a couple of lapses.

“They played well. You know, when you’re behind,” he said. “They kept the puck in our zone for a little bit, but we made a couple mistakes and it’s in the back of our net.”

Biding their time, lurking in the shadows ready to pounce, the Penguins scored three goals in a span of 3:24 to take a hefty lead. The quick strike was enough to stun the Avs, but the game was already ripe for either team to take control.

“I won’t say it was a collapse,” Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy said after the game. “Pittsburgh had a good second period. Our goalie was really good. I think it was a game that was there. A one-goal game is there for anybody. If it would have been a 4-1 game and then they would have scored, I would probably say yes. But when you’re down 3-2, you open up a little more the game, and that’s what happened on that fourth goal. They scored on a nice rush play.”

Special teams ended up being the difference for Colorado, which only gave up two power-play opportunities but failed to capitalize on any of the five separate calls against the Penguins—including on a 5-on-3 chance early in the third.

“We had a great chance there in the third with a couple power plays. I think we were a little unlucky there too,” forward Andreas Martinsen said. “We had some really good chances that could have gone in, but that’s how it is. And then they get a goal there right after. I think we were still battling the whole way, but we just couldn’t get the two points today.

“That’s how it is. You can’t really know when you’re going to get a power play or not, but if we could get a goal or two in there, we should be fine. A little unlucky there a couple of times. That’s how it is.”

As Roy sees it, the power-play struggles started in the first period when Matt Cullen was called for interference at 7:08 and culminated with nothing to show after the 5-on-3.

“Even in the first period, I think we were up 1-0 and our power play had a chance, and we just kind of lost our momentum from our power play,” he said. “We made bad decisions in the middle of the ice and at the blue line, and the puck came out and we couldn’t generate anything. On the 5-on-3, we could not score. We had a couple looks, but we didn’t do enough to score.

“We need to score on those ones to make it a 3-1 game. They were playing well. I thought they had a good game. In the second period, Reto [Berra] made several good saves and kept us in the 2-1 game. There’s key moments in the game, and the 5-on-3 was certainly one of them.”

A sport full of momentum, the Avs saw the ice tilt when Patric Hornqvist tallied the eventual game-winner on a play that Roy ended up challenging. Despite Roy’s claim that Berra was interfered with, the on-ice officials upheld the ruling that it was a good goal.

After the match, Roy spoke about his decision to request additional consideration on the play. He confessed that he wasn’t there to decide if it was correct or not, but that there is a grey area that he doesn’t prefer.

“I won’t make the judgement. Was it the right call or a bad call? I guess everybody’s going to have their own opinion,” he said. “Some are going to say it’s a good goal, others are going to say it’s not a good goal. All that I’m asking is what’s exactly goalie interference? To me, if the guy cross-checks our defenseman into our goalie and he’s incapable of making the save because of it, to me it’s goalie interference. But maybe for someone else it might be a hockey play.

“We all have different versions on what it is, the right or the wrong call. I have absolutely nothing to say against the call that was made on the ice. Do I agree with it? No, but I don’t criticize that part. What I criticize is there’s not enough consistency. We don’t know. When you’re watching the game at home and you see the same play happen and they disallow the goal [and] you’re coming here tonight. What’s the difference?”


GABE SITS OUT

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog missed just his third contest of the season on Wednesday night, this time due to a back injury. Landeskog was expected to start the game after the team’s morning skate at Pepsi Center, with Mikhail Grigorenko and Zach Redmond named as scratches by Roy, but he became a late subtraction with the ailment.

Gabriel Landeskog

“After the morning skate, he complained about back spasms, and he came back tonight before the game and didn’t look good,” Roy said of the captain. “He could not play.”

Suddenly, Grigorenko found himself back in the lineup and among the team’s top trio at the drop of the puck. It didn’t take him long to find the scoresheet either. The 21-year-old Russian picked up an assist on Matt Duchene’s tally at the 5:34 mark of the opening frame.

Grigorenko was then moved to the fourth line later in the frame, playing wing with Chris Wagner and Jack Skille for the remainder of the match while Tanguay filled his previous spot.

After the game, Roy said the change was due to Grigorenko’s play.

“He was not good enough on the 1-on-1 battles. He needs to win his battles, and he lost a lot of battles,” Roy said. “It was a nice shot by MacK. It was a nice rebound by Dutchy, but if Grigo wants to play on the top line he needs to be more consistent in his battles and do a better job. I’m not saying Tanguay was better. I’m just saying, to me a young player needs to learn, and he needs to be better in that area of his game.”

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