Avalanche home win­less streak reaches 9 games

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Terry Frei

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

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