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Avalanche get four goals from D-men to top Lightning

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy has asked his defensemen all season to get involved in the offense when given the chance, and it paid off again Sunday in a 6-3 come-from-behind win against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Pepsi Center.

Three of the Avalanche's four third-period goals came from defensemen, who scored four in the game. Nick Holden matched a career-high with two goals, and Tyson Barrie and Erik Johnson each had one.

Forwards Ryan O'Reilly and Paul Stastny also scored for Colorado.

"For us, it's nice that Patty wants us in the play, and it's a lot of fun to be involved in the offense and helping to create plays," said Johnson, who broke a 3-3 tie with 3:55 remaining in regulation in his first game following a two-game suspension. "It was great. It's tough sitting out and to be able to come back and contribute and help the team win is fun. It was nice to get rewarded with kind of a fluky one at the end."

Johnson stole the puck from Ryan Malone and beat 6-foot-7 Lightning goalie Ben Bishop with a low shot from near the right-wing boards for his first goal in 18 games.

"I was kind of poaching and saw that their (defenseman) made a soft pass, and I was able to step up and pick it off," Johnson said. "Right away I tried to make a move and I got past one guy, and he made a nice play and dove. I was a little upset, but it turned out for the best when I shot it and got a nice bounce. All game long Patrick was saying throw it at his feet and you can surprise him, and that's what I did.

"I know [Bishop] very well; he's a friend of mine. I know him from St. Louis and I shot at him a lot. He's obviously a big guy and he doesn't give you a lot of room. Sometimes, big guys like that, you throw it at their feet and they don't see it."

Holden scored an empty-net goal with 53.1 seconds to play after the Avalanche killed off a tripping penalty to Jan Hejda, and Stastny added an empty-net goal with 6.3 seconds to go.

"I was very impressed with our defense supporting the attack," Roy said. "I thought they did a good job. We love when our D jump into the rush. Sometimes you're going to give 2-on-1s, but we're willing to live with that."

The win was the Avalanche's fourth in 20 games in which they trailed after two periods. The loss was the Lightning's third in 25 games in regulation when they were ahead after two.

The Avalanche were awarded four consecutive power plays, three in the third period, and scored on one to tie the game 3-3. O'Reilly slid the puck from the right circle through the slot to Holden, who moved near the left post and redirected the pass over Bishop's right pad at 5:12.

It was the Avalanche's sixth power-play goal in the past three games.

"The power play the past few games has just been buzzing," Holden said. "I've been getting in back door there. Ryan made an unbelievable pass across the crease, and I just had to have my stick on the ice and push it. It's more Ryan's pass than my goal."

Lightning coach Jon Cooper was upset with his team's lack of discipline in the third.

"The game came down to two things -- special teams killed us," he said. "We couldn't kill the penalties. We were soft and we took too many. We couldn't kill the penalty off when we needed to. They got the power play late and they scored.

"Aside from that, it is a 3-3 game. This is a tough one, tied with under 5 minutes to go. I thought we were getting points from this one. We let it slip out of our hands."

Lightning right wing Martin St. Louis, who had two goals in each of the previous two games, didn't have a point and was held to one third-period shot.

"You want to at least get a point out of it when you are tied at the end of the game," he said. "It just didn't happen."

Center Nate Thompson scored twice in the second period to give the Lightning a 3-2 lead. He has eight goals in 60 games, five goals in the past seven games.

Thompson tied the game at 6:40 when he skated into the left circle and took a shot from a sharp angle that went under goalie Semyon Varlamov's right pad.

The Avalanche killed off a hooking penalty to Matt Duchene -- the first penalty of the game -- that began at 13:47, but Thompson scored again at 17:37. He took a shot from the left circle that Varlamov stopped with his pad, but Thompson continued to the net and chipped in the rebound.

Barrie and O'Reilly scored goals 1:42 apart on consecutive shots late in the first period to give the Avalanche a 2-1 lead.

Lightning center Tom Pyatt opened the scoring at 16:49. He skated into the lower end of the left circle and beat Varlamov to the short side for his second goal in 13 games this season.

Barrie collected his career-high eighth goal 30 seconds later. He maneuvered around Pyatt in the right circle, cut to the net and slipped the puck between Bishop's pads. Rookie Nathan MacKinnon had an assist on the play to stretch his point streak to 11 games.

O'Reilly broke the tie with 58.6 seconds left in the period. PA Parenteau slid a cross-ice pass to O'Reilly in the right circle for a shot that seemed to surprise Bishop. The goal was O'Reilly's team-leading and career-high 23rd.

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