– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
NEWARK, NJ — Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog personally made sure that his team would have a lot more fun while traveling thousands of miles away from the Rockies at the beginning of one of their longest road trips of the entire season.
Landeskog scored the game-tying and game-winning goal after his team went down earlier in the third period as the Avalanche dealt the New Jersey Devils their first loss of the season, a 5-3 win by Colorado in Newark on Thursday night.
Colorado started an eight-day, four city road trip along the Eastern seaboard with a 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, and back-to-back losses looked likely going up against the last undefeated team in the National Hockey League in the Devils. Landeskog, who scored on the power play in the second period to give Colorado a 2-1 lead, completed his fifth-career hat trick with those two tallies in the third, with the game-winner coming on a wrist shot as he found himself wide open in the slot after a pass from behind the net by line mate Mikko Rantanen.
Colorado now has three points in two games to start the road trip, as improving its play away from the Pepsi Center has been a point of emphasis with the team; Among Western Conference teams, only the Arizona Coyotes had fewer road wins than the Avalanche’s 15 away wins in 2017-18.
“We talked about that going into MSG a couple of nights ago. Let’s start this road trip off the right way, because we’ve been on a few where we start off 0-2 or 0-3 and, all of a sudden, it’s not as fun being on the road,” said Landeskog. “You get one point at MSG and getting a win here tonight, especially early in the year, it’s really good for team bonding to get off to a start like that. Guys are having fun around the rink and off the rink, so it was key no doubt.”
Though Colorado found itself down in the third period on a power play goal by Brian Boyle when a pass from Kyle Palmieri bounced off of his leg and past goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer, Colorado had seen most of the play happen on the Devils’ end of the ice, as it outshot New Jersey 22-15 after two period, including 12-6 in the first period.
“I thought that was the most committed defensively we’ve been for a handful of games,” Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said. “Our guys were bought in and battling right away and concentrating on winning their one-on-ones and doing things right.”