Gabe Landeskog, Avs bounce Columbus

Landeskog and Varlamov have both been key contributors to the Avalanche this season. Varlamov leads the NHL with 38 wins.

Landeskog and Varlamov have both been key contributors to the Avalanche this season. Varlamov leads the NHL with 38 wins.

Gabe Landeskog, along with some help from Columbus Blue Jackets’ players Nick Foligno and Jack Johnson, carried the Colorado Avalanche to a comeback victory over Columbus, 3-2 in overtime.

In a game that Columbus needed to win to help secure their place in the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, they came out of the gates fast and physical. In the first period alone, the Blue Jackets notched 27 hits, a season high for a single period in the NHL this season.

Columbus was definitely playing with an edge, and it led to them coming out of the 2nd period holding a 2-0 advantage over Colorado. Through those two periods, the Avalanche were outmatched in every single way imaginable.

However, there is a reason that this squad has picked up the nickname — the “Cardiac Kids” — this season. Frequently, the Avalanche find themselves either tying games up late, or falling off the gas pedal down the stretch when they’ve been in control of games. Outside of a few games, the Avs have played in several very close games this season.

All it takes, it seems, is a simple spark to get the Avalanche rolling. In the course of this game, that spark came off a bad bounce that led to Colorado’s first goal. Brad Malone followed the puck into the corner, and decided to try to center the puck to someone in the high slot. However, it was not one of his teammates that was on the other end of the pass. Columbus Blue Jackets’ player Nick Foligno ended up having the puck bounce off his leg and past a sprawling Sergei Bobrovsky. From that point on, all signs pointed towards a Colorado comeback.

The speed of the game picked up, which is something that works in favor of the Avalanche, with their youth and creativity on offense. It all culminated with Gabe Landeskog crashing the net and cashing in on a nice pass by Nathan MacKinnon, who just continues to shine as the best 18-year-old the league has seen since Wayne Gretzky.

Landeskog then capped off the comeback in overtime by having a pass through the slot deflect off the leg of Jack Johnson and past Bobrovsky.

These are the types of games that championship caliber teams win. They do not always have to be pretty. That is something that Patrick Roy has been preaching to this team since the first days of training camp.

Patrick Roy said before the season that this Avalanche team would surprise a lot of people, and it has gone on to do just that.

Patrick Roy said before the season that this Avalanche team would surprise a lot of people, and it has gone on to do just that.

The roster he inherited got too fascinated with making the fancy hockey plays all the time. They wouldn’t take shots simply because they didn’t fit perfectly within the drawn-up scheme. That is not the way championship teams win.

Championship teams get to the dirty areas and put pucks on net, regardless of whether or not they are what would be considered a good shot. Sometimes, the puck just seems to find its way to the back of the net and you seem to steal a victory from a team that played better that given night. That is what happened in Columbus last night, and the Avs came away with a solid two points.

The Avs are continuing to put distance between themselves and the Chicago Blackhawks for 2nd in the Central Division, and are 7 points behind the St. Louis Blues with 7 games remaining. The Avs face a tough next three games, with the New York Rangers coming to Denver tomorrow night. Following that, they travel for an early afternoon game against the Blues on Saturday, before returning to Denver for a match-up with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. How the Avs handle these three games could very well determine if they enter the playoffs in 2nd in the Central, 3rd in the Central, or possibly even 1st, which is still feasible. And for a team that has surpassed all expectations this season, would it really surprise anyone if they were able to move into 1st place at this point?