DENVER – A game that began badly for Colorado finished in a flourish fuelled by three of the youngest players on the NHL’s youngest team.
Brandon Yip had two goals, including the go-ahead score, Ryan O’Reilly added a pair of short-handed goals, and T.J. Galiardi figured in each of those four tallies as the Colorado Avalanche snapped a three-game winless streak by beating the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-1 on Tuesday night.
Craig Anderson added 20 saves for Colorado, which completed a sweep of the four-game season series with the Blue Jackets.
Colorado’s youthful vanguard – Yip, O’Reilly and Galiardi are among seven rookies on the Avalanche roster – sparked the slumbering offence after coach Joe Sacco gave his team a tongue-lashing during a television timeout midway through the first period.
At that point, the Blue Jackets had scored a short-handed goal by Antoine Vermette, the Avs had been outshot 8-1 and had taken a penalty during their first shift.
“That timeout came at a perfect time, and the coach gave it to us pretty good there,” Galiardi said. “Basically he told us to wake up, and we responded. Some guys had big games and we’re glad to have the two points.”
Columbus left wing Fredrik Modin said the Blue Jackets had a solid start but couldn’t sustain it.
“We played well early on and then they took over early in the second period,” Modin said. “We weren’t able to match them after that.”
Kyle Quincey had the first of Colorado’s five unanswered goals, tying it 1-1 at 18:31 of the first. The kids took it from there.
“We all knew we had to step it up,” O’Reilly said. “Getting that first goal was good for them but we had to regroup. We stayed to our game, kept working hard and we got a few bounces.”
O’Reilly’s second two-goal game of the season came with Avalanche centre Paul Stastny in the penalty box, serving a double minor for high-sticking.
O’Reilly’s first goal extended Colorado’s lead to 4-1 at 7:14 of the third. Galiardi started a rush and then fed O’Reilly, who beat goalie Mathieu Garon. With Columbus still on the power play, the two teamed up on another rush that O’Reilly converted with 9:31 remaining.
“That doesn’t happen very often,” Galiardi said. “All the credit to O’Reilly. He just made two great plays, stuck with it on the second one, and on the first, he had two guys all over him and was able to put it in on the short-side.”
Yip made it 2-1 when he scored his first at 4:33 of the second. Kyle Cumiskey set it up by starting to skate behind the net, then pulling up and sliding the puck back across the crease for Yip’s one-timer. Columbus missed a chance to tie it late in the second when a shot by Rick Nash hit the right post and bounced away.
“That would have been a huge goal,” Nash said. “It went directly off the post. I didn’t have that much time to do better.”
Yip scored his second off a pass from Galiardi, knocking the puck in from the side to put Colorado up 3-1.
With Colorado on the power play, Columbus took advantage of a turnover to mount a 3-on-1 breakaway that Vermette finished with a short-handed goal 5:47 in. Nash, rushing down the left side, sent a cross-ice pass to Vermette, who converted from the lower left circle with a slap shot for his 18th of the season.
NOTES: Columbus LW Kristian Huselius, who missed Saturday’s game at St. Louis because of the flu, returned to play in his 600th NHL game. … Yip also scored two goals against Detroit on Dec. 31. O’Reilly had two goals against Chicago on Nov. 6. … Colorado has given up six short-handed goals this season. … Vermette’s short-handed score was his first of the season and 15th of his career. … The Avs have killed 24 consecutive penalties.