The Colorado Avalanche were less than a minute away from leaving Nationwide Arena with nothing. Thanks to a pair of their top young players, they left with two points instead.
Gabriel Landeskog, the No. 2 pick in the Entry Draft in June, scored his first NHL goal with 40 seconds left to tie the game, and Matt Duchene's goal in the shootout gave the Avs a 3-2 victory against the winless Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.
The Jackets, now 0-3-1, went ahead 2-1 on Radek Martinek's goal 1:16 into the third period. But Columbus went without a shot for the rest of the period, and the Avalanche finally broke through in the final minute of regulation. With Semyon Varlamov on the bench for an extra attacker, defenseman Jan Hejda, who the Blue Jackets declined to re-sign in the offseason, fired a slap shot from the left point into traffic that hit Landeskog and deflected past Steve Mason to tie the game.
"I didn't know if I got it," the 18-year-old Swede said with a grin. "I didn't know if it went off something else after me. I jumped and it hit my skate and I saw that the guys were cheering. I just started jumping."
Columbus captain Rick Nash scored on the first shot of the shootout, but Milan Hejduk matched him with a wrist shot past Mason. Duchene, the No. 3 pick in the 2009 draft, scored through Mason's legs in the second round.
Varlamov, who made 31 saves through 65 minutes, then denied Jeff Carter to end the game. It was the second time in three nights, both at home, that the Jackets led in the third period and couldn't close the deal. The 0-3-1 start is the worst in franchise history.
"It's obviously not the way we wanted to start the year," said Carter, acquired in a blockbuster deal with Philadelphia during the summer. "There was a lot of excitement coming into the season about the team. The fans showed that on the first night. If we expect fans to come out and cheer us on and pay their hard-earned money to come out here, we need to start putting wins on the board."
Martinek, signed from the Islanders this summer, provided the first goal by a Columbus defenseman this season and his first in a Blue Jackets uniform. He was positioned at the right point when he took Vinny Prospal's pass from the corner boards and one-timed it over Varlamov's shoulder.
But the Blue Jackets went the last 18:44 of the third period and the next 22:36 including overtime without a shot as the Avalanche stepped up the pressure on Mason, who finished with 30 saves. Until the final minute, he was up to the task, twice diving onto the ice to cover loose pucks in the crease. Colorado outshot Columbus 16-1 in the final period.
"We got back on our heels," Jackets coach Scott Arniel said. "We got a lead and we were trying to protect the lead and we were a little bit afraid of making a mistake."
The Avalanche opened the scoring on T.J. Galiardi's wrister through traffic 13:06 into the game. Shane O'Brien threw the puck on net and it rebounded off a Columbus player to Galiardi for a wrister from near the right circle that slipped under Mason's left shoulder and trickled over the goal line.
Nash tied it 2:30 into the second period, tapping in his own rebound after a giveaway by Colorado's Jay McClement.
The Blue Jackets were 0 for 4 on the power play and are 0 for 20 on the season with a man advantage.
It was the second road win in three days for the Avs, who came to Columbus after a 1-0 victory in Boston on Monday -- and a special night for Landeskog.
"It's a big road trip for us," he said. "It's huge for team bonding as well to get those two points. You always dream about scoring in a crucial moment of a game, especially on the road like this in the third game of the season. So it was a huge relief for me -- and for the team as well."
Material from team media was used in this report