Avalanche home winless streak reaches 9 games
Visiting NHL players probably now look at the sign greeting them on the Pepsi Center loading dock — words reminding them of the mile-high altitude — and go: So? The Avalanche hasn’t won a home game in six weeks.
The winless streak at the Pepsi Center reached nine Tuesday night, when the Calgary Flames — who traveled to Denver on Tuesday morning after the end of the NHL’s three-day holiday shutdown — got two goals apiece from Mikael Backlund and Johnny Gaudreau and knocked off Colorado 6-3.
The Flames, who at least fired away on Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard, took charge largely on the strength of goals that came on the sort of bounces that left the Calgary scorers looking sheepish, almost as if they didn’t know whether it would look tacky to celebrate.
For the Avalanche, Gabe Landeskog scored twice and Jarome Iginla pitched in with his 616th career goal.
Pickard made several tough saves among his nine in the first period, keeping the Flames scoreless, and Landeskog put the Avalanche up 1-0 at 18:22. Nathan MacKinnon’s pass set up Landeskog for the shot from the left circle, and the Avalanche captain beat former Colorado goalie Brian Elliott high to the glove side. It was Landeskog’s first goal since his empty-netter against the Kings in that Nov. 15 win, but there’s an asterisk there — he missed the next 10 games with a lower body injury. This was his ninth game since his return to the lineup.
The Flames tied it up at 1:33 of the second, when Backlund’s centering pass caromed off Avalanche defenseman Fedor Tyutin and into the net. Sam Bennett’s rather innocuous deflection of Deryk Engelland’s ended up getting through traffic, off Francois Beauchemin’s skate and past Pickard at 9:49 to make it 2-1. Next, Gaudreau’s shot from near the blue line went off the glass behind the goal, over the net, off Pickard’s back and in. That put Calgary up 3-1 at 11:15 of the second.
Iginla, who scored the first 525 of his career goals for Calgary, got the Avalanche within one with a one-timer from the top of the slot at 15:51. That got him to within nine of Joe Sakic, who is No. 15 on the NHL’s all-time goal list.
But the Flames came right back with Backlund’s second goal of the night. When Pickard couldn’t cover the puck, Backlund poked it out of the scramble and it went off Beauchemin’s skate again and in, leaving the Flames up 4-2.
When the Flames’ T.J. Brodie went off for tripping at 17:07 and Michael Frolik drew a delay of game minor at 17:33, the Avalanche had a 5-on-3 power play for 94 seconds. The puck never left the Calgary zone during the whistle-free stretch, ... but Colorado couldn’t score then or in the next 26 seconds with the 5-on-4 advantage, either.
So Calgary still was up by two heading into the third. Gaudreau’s second goal made it 5-2 midway through the final period before Landeskog scored again, but the Flames made it 6-3 on Kris Versteeg’s goal at 14:28.
The Avalanche next faces the Stars in Dallas on Thursday.
Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard, left, has the puck hit his back and drop in the net for a goal. David Zalubowski, The Associated Press