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Down 3-0, Avalanche rally to defeat Flames

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche coach Joe Sacco apparently had plenty to say during the first intermission Thursday night after watching his team fall into a three-goal hole against the Calgary Flames at Pepsi Center.

Avalanche players took his remarks to heart and rallied for a 5-4 victory with two goals in the second period and three in the third.

"It was time to get back to what makes us a good team," said Matt Duchene, who knocked in the rebound of Jamie McGinn's shot at 10:52 of the third period to break a 4-4 tie.

"We had a great second period. I think after we got those two goals we really believed that we were going to win the game. You could feel it in here. It's a great feeling right now. It's one of the best Avalanche wins in recent memory, that's for sure."

The Avalanche, who moved back to .500 with an 8-8-3 record, rallied from 3-0 and 4-2 down shortly after announcing they had matched the two-year, $10 million offer sheet to restricted free agent Ryan O'Reilly that was tendered by the Flames earlier in the day.

So it turned out to be a difficult night all the way around for the Flames.

"At 3-0, the only explanation I can give you guys is we felt it would be easy," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "On every goal there were major breakdowns, whether it was bad decisions or lack of effort. We played a great first period and found a way to throw it to the dumpster. I've watched many games from last year and it seems to be the same song. We just stopped playing.

"We had the game 3-zip and we're going back home. We didn't deserve it. They deserved it. They outworked us in the second, they outworked us in the third. At 3-zip we had the game fully in control, so we only have us to blame."

Flames captain Jarome Iginla was nearly at a loss for words. His second goal of the game, which came on a power play at 13:16 of the second period, put his team ahead 4-2.

"We know we are supposed to play the same way, but we don't play the same way when we are up, and that one is as hard as any loss this year," he said. "There is no way that should happen. There is no excuses. It's terrible. It stinks. There is no way we shouldn't win this game."

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog started the rally when he scored 23 seconds into the third period, skating by defenseman TJ Brodie on his way to the net before sliding the puck past goalie Joey MacDonald.

"It was good hockey in the last two periods," said Landeskog, who added two assists for the first three-point game of his brief NHL career. "It [stunk] coming into the room after the first period, I can tell you that much. It was bitter and we had to respond. Coach Sacco gave us a pretty good speech and we came out fired up in the second. It was embarrassing how we played in the first."

Paul Stastny was credited with the tying goal at 6:34 after Landeskog fired a shot that MacDonald stopped. Stastny was driving to the net at the time and the puck went in off his right skate. The goal was allowed to stand following a video review.

"I wouldn't kick it, but it happened so fast, you never know," Stastny said. "You could be turning your skate and it could look like you're kicking it. I knew it was a big point in the game. It was going to change a lot of the momentum whether it counted or not. Thankfully it counted."

Duchene scored in more conventional fashion to give the Avalanche a 5-4 lead. PA Parenteau set up McGinn for a shot on goal and Duchene banged in the rebound. Four Avalanche goals came from players driving to the net.

"That's what we talk about a lot," Sacco said. "We're trying to simplify things here, put more shots on net on a team that sometimes has a tendency to overpass and tries to look for a better play. That doesn't work in this League. The defending teams are too hard to play against, so put pucks to the net and make sure we're going there for rebounds and second opportunities."

The Avalanche had to kill off back-to-back penalties -- both by defenseman Shane O'Brien -- after taking the lead, and goalie Semyon Varlamov stopped Matt Stajan's open shot from between the circles with 53.8 seconds remaining with MacDonald off the ice for a sixth attacker.

The Flames broke out to a 3-0 lead in the first period on goals by Jay Bouwmeester, Mike Cammalleri and Iginla.

Bouwmeester and Cammalleri scored 33 seconds apart. Bouwmeester was in the slot when he accepted a centering pass from Sven Baertschi and whipped the puck behind Varlamov at 4:28. Cammalleri followed by knocking in the rebound of Lee Stempniak's shot at 5:01. Iginla made it 3-0 with a tap-in from just outside the crease with 53.6 seconds remaining.

The Avalanche drew within 3-2 in the second period when Ryan O'Byrne scored from the right point at 5:11 and David Jones converted Stastny's pass from behind the net at 9:54.

Calgary regained the momentum 38 seconds after Colorado's Patrick Bordeleau went off for charging. Iginla knocked in his own rebound at 13:16 during the ensuing power play for a 4-2 advantage.

"We regrouped," Sacco said. "We knew that we had time to get back into the game. It was just a matter of playing the right way, playing our game, playing to our identity. There was a lot of resiliency from the group, no question. The guys battled hard to get back in that game and they feel pretty good after the win, as well they should."

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