For the second straight game, the Colorado Avalanche pulled goaltender Reto Berra in the first period after he allowed three goals. For the second straight game, Calvin Pickard came into the contest in relief. For the second straight game, Pickard was masterful.
It was déjà vu all over again in Tuesday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes. The Avs fell down early, surrendering three goals in the first 11 minutes. Then, after a goaltending change, they battled back.
“We knew what we had to do. We know this is a big game, especially for us in the standings,” said Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog. “Couple of tough bounces in the first period didn’t go our way, but we know we’re capable of turning this around.”
Landeskog would contribute mightily to the comeback effort, scoring a goal in both the second and third periods. The 22-year-old Swede is now on a four-game point streak, with two goals and four assists during that span.
After being outshot in the first period, the Avalanche had the advantage in that category in every frame throughout the remainder of the game. Looking lackadaisical in the opening frame, the picked up the intensity on the forecheck and appeared to be the better team for the rest of the contest.
“We were resilient tonight,” said Avalanche coach Patrick Roy. “I think that was the story of the night.”
Matt Duchene would tie the contest in the third period. The 23-year-old center would shoot the puck into goaltender Mike Smith. Thinking the puck had already gone in, Smith would move his foot and push the biscuit into the net. The goal was upheld upon review.
It would be another unfortunate bounce in overtime that proved to be the undoing of the Coyotes. Avalanche forward Daniel Briere would attempt a centering pass from the side boards, only to see it deflect off of the stick of Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal, who mistakenly directed it into his own net; giving the Avalanche a 4-3 victory. It was Briere’s team-leading third game-winning goal of the season.
The goal may have been a cruel twist of karma for Hanzal, as he laid out Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson, hitting him in the head earlier in the overtime. Johnson would not return to the contest, but Roy said he “seemed fine” after the game.
Pickard cast aside all 25 shots that he faced to pick up the win. His effort also earned him the start in Wednesday’s matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks.
“Pickard did a really good job against Carolina the other night, and tonight, he was again perfect,” said Roy. “You have to give it to him. He battles out there and competes and deserves a lot of credit for his play right now.”