EDMONTON — Gabriel Landeskog came back at the right time for Colorado.
Landeskog had a goal and an assist in his return from a three-game suspension as the Avalanche won their third game in a row, defeating the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Sunday.
The Colorado captain’s offence was badly needed with his team currently without their two leading scorers, injured centres Matt Duchene and Nathan McKinnon, and in the midst of a heated playoff race.
“I felt good. It’s tough watching,” Landeskog said. “I was hungry and ready to go. But the guys have done a great job throughout the road trip to make sure we’re in a great spot and I was just hungry to come out and help out.”
Tyson Barrie and Blake Comeau also scored for the Avalanche (38-31-4), who currently sit one point ahead of the Minnesota Wild for the final wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“We played really well,” said Colorado coach Patrick Roy. “I thought we had a great start and our power play was outstanding. Our puck possession was outstanding, we were able to hold on to the puck in the O-zone and we had a lot of shots. I was very happy with the performance of the team.”
Matt Hendricks and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins replied for the Oilers (29-39-7), who had a two-game winning streak come to an end.
“Tonight was one of those games where it was a desperate team battling for the playoffs,” said Oilers forward Mark Letestu. “It really showed early on. Their pace was higher than ours.”
With the loss, the Oilers were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention for the 10th consecutive year.
“We may not be a playoff team, but we have playoff fans,” said Oilers coach Todd McLellan. “At some point, we have to reward them.”
There was no scoring in the first period, with Colorado putting 12 shots on Edmonton starter Laurent Brossoit and the Oilers taking eight shots on Avalanche goalie Calvin Pickard.
Colorado got on the scoreboard 1:19 into the second period when Landeskog took a feed from Carl Soderberg in front and showed good patience before sending a backhand shot past a sprawling Brossoit.
The Avalanche made it 2-0 just past the midway point of the second when a Barrie point shot deflected off of defender Mark Fayne and into the Edmonton net.
Edmonton finally scored three minutes into the third period as Letestu battled hard in front to sweep a puck to Hendricks, who tapped his second goal in as many games into a wide-open net.
The Avalanche restored their two-goal lead on the power play midway through the third frame when Comeau perfectly deflected an Erik Johnson shot.
Edmonton was able to make the score look better as Connor McDavid set up Nugent-Hopkins with Brossoit on the bench and just 7.6 seconds left on the clock.
The Oilers begin a three-game road trip in Arizona on Tuesday. The Avs are off until Thursday, when they host the Philadelphia Flyers.