Brace yourselves, Avalanche fans. The hockey team that plays in Burgundy & Blue jerseys won a game today for the first time since January 12th—after nine straight losses. They also won at the Pepsi Center, the first time they’ve done so since they beat the Los Angeles Kings on November 15th—no joke. And they did so in decisive fashion, beating Winnipeg 5-2.
The Avalanche opted to shake up their typical first-period strategy and score first. Yup, you heard that correctly. Jarome Iginla ripped a slap shot from his favorite spot during the back half of a Dustin Byfuglien-induced power play. The goal was his seventh of the season. Matt Duchene and Francois Beauchemin received assists on the play.
A few minutes later the Jets would even the game on yet another Avalanche defenseman deflection. The culprit was the recently-waived Eric Gelinas, getting a start in place of the injured Tyson Barrie. While attempting to prevent a cross-ice pass during an odd-man rush from Adam Lowry, he laid out on the ice and managed to angle the puck past Calvin Pickard to even it up 1-1.
Then Colorado decided to double down on the whole scoring-during-the-first-period-at-home thing. Nathan MacKinnon scored, perhaps, the ugliest goal of his career, jamming the puck in from point-blank range with Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen also causing ruckus near the crease. Ugly or not, MacKinnon gave his team its second lead of the game and registered his 12th goal of the season.
Lowry would strike again early in the second period during a power play.
Waiver wire extraordinaire (and Long Beach native), Matt Nieto, then scored his third goal in an Avalanche uniform on an improbable bounce off the boards. Patrick Wiercioch ripped a shot from the point wide of the net, drawing out Jets’ goalie Ondrej Pavelec to cut off the angle. But the puck bounce hard off the boards directly to Nieto standing below the right circle. He buried the puck into the wide-open net to give Colorado its third lead of the game 3-2.
Then Carl Soderberg scored for the first time in 24 games, taking a nice feed from Jarome Iginla in the slot and ripping a slap shot past Pavelec to extend Colorado’s lead (yes, lead) to 4-2, astonishing both fans and lowly hockey bloggers, who may have forgotten how to spell such words.
Winnipeg would attempt one last effort with the goalie pulled late in the third, but the Avalanche would put yet another puck in the net. Matt Nieto was, again, responsible, bringing his yearly total up to four goals in just 11 games played (good for tenth on the team—seriously).
The Avalanche will try it again on Tuesday, when the Montreal Canadiens come to town. No doubt recent addition, Mark Barberio, will be seeking revenge on his former club.
We’re open to the idea.