DENVER (AP) — The game had a postseason intensity. So Gabriel Landeskog of course brought out his best shot – even if he might’ve had his eyes closed when he took it.
A capacity crowd certainly let him know the result.
The Colorado captain beat Marc Andre-Fleury with a nifty move in the shootout and the Avalanche kept expansion Vegas from clinching a playoff spot on their home ice by beating the Golden Knights 2-1 on Saturday.
“It was a lot of fun and the crowd was incredible,” said Landeskog, who explained that on his winning tally he came in from an angle on Fleury, cut toward the middle and shot the puck with his eyes shut. “(Fleury) made some nice saves on me during the game. It was nice to get that one back.”
Semyon Varlamov stopped all three shots in the shootout. He finished with 39 saves, including seven in overtime.
This after allowing five goals and being pulled in a 7-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings two days ago.
Short memories this time of year.
“I knew we were going to come and play hard and respond,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “Doesn’t always guarantee you the victory – there’s another good team that’s trying to win the hockey game, too. It was a close one right down to the shootout.”
Carl Soderberg was back on the ice after missing two games with an illness and contributed with a first-period goal. Colorado remains in the thick of the playoff picture as the team picked up its 26th home win, which is tied for the third-most in Avalanche history.
The Pacific Division-leading Golden Knights are on the doorstep of earning their playoff spot. They were kept in this game thanks to the play of Fleury, who was back in the net after sustaining an undisclosed injury Tuesday. Fleury made 29 saves.
“We had moments when I thought the puck would go in, but somehow he stopped the shots. He’d make that big save,” Varlamov said of Fleury. “That’s why he’s different than anybody else. In a key moment, he can make that save.”
Jonathan Marchessault tied the game early in the third, moments after Fleury made an incredible save with his right leg.
It would be a familiar trend.
The play of the game may have been this: Blake Comeau had a breakaway in the third as he tried to corral the puck near center ice. Fleury came all the way out to disrupt Comeau, who side-stepped Fleury’s stick only to tumble to the ice and not be able to knock it into the wide-open net.
In overtime, Fleury also stopped Erik Johnson on a breakaway.
“He was awesome,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “He made some great saves tonight. That wasn’t a 1-1 hockey game. That was like a 5-4 hockey game. I thought both goalies were really good.”
Fleury recently had some fun with reporters who asked about what happened Tuesday when he left the game for an undisclosed reason (he also didn’t play Thursday). Fleury joked it was a chance to catch up on his favorite soap opera, “Days of our Lives.”
All kidding aside, he said he was “back to normal. It felt good to be back with the boys again.”
The two teams turn around and play in Vegas on Monday.
“The atmosphere was good. It was such a close game, on both sides,” Fleury said. “It was exciting to be part of, but disappointing to come out on the losing side.”
Varlamov was in net for a 20th straight game as backup Jonathan Bernier was sidelined by a cut that became infected. Bernier’s also missed time this season with a concussion.
Soderberg gave Colorado an early lead by lifting a shot over the shoulder of Fleury for a power-play goal midway through the opening period.
“It was a good hockey game,” Bednar said. “That was a fun hockey game.”
NOTES: Team USA goaltender Nicole Hensley was honored before the game and given an Avalanche sweater. She helped the U.S. bring home the gold medal at the Pyeongchang Games. … D Mark Alt made his Avalanche debut after being claimed off waivers from Philadelphia on Feb. 26. … RW Sven Andrighetto and C Colin Wilson are day-to-day with lower-body injuries.
Golden Knights: Begin a four-game homestand Monday against Colorado.
Avalanche: Travel to Vegas on Monday before hosting two straight games at home.
(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)