DENVER — Jarome Iginla rarely finds himself this wide open or a goal this easy.
All he had to do was direct the puck into the net – simple as that.
“You dream of those open nets late,” said Iginla, who scored his 97th career game-winning goal, tying him with Guy Lafleur for eighth place on the NHL list. “We weren’t good early, but we found a way to get better as it went on and we found a way to get the win.”
Iginla nearly had another goal in the second period, but it was waved off for goaltender interference. He has 17 goals this season to push his career total to 606.
The winner was set up when Montreal defenceman P.K. Subban fell down near the blue line. Mikhail Grigorenko quickly grabbed the puck to start an odd-man-rush. He sent it over to Matt Duchene, who worked it up the ice and passed it back to Grigorenko.
In all the confusion, Iginla found himself wide open in front of the net. Grigorenko waited for a defenceman to clear and then slid the puck to Iginla.
“I knew Jarome was there,” Grigorenko said.
On the pivotal play, Subban said he caught an edge and fell.
“My feet came out from under me,” Subban explained. “Usually, if I feel a guy on me at that point, I just put it in deep. I didn’t really feel him, crossed over and lost an edge.”
His coach, Michel Therrien, wasn’t pleased with his defenceman’s decision making, though.
“It’s too bad that an individual mistake cost the game, late in the game,” Therrien said. “As a coach, I thought he could’ve had a better decision at the blue-line. He moved the puck behind and he put himself in a tough position.
“Unfortunately, at the end of the game, when we don’t play as a team, we could be in trouble and this is what happened.”
Asked if he was making a high-risk play, Subban didn’t believe so.
“It’s not like I was trying to put it between a guy’s legs or something,” said Subban, whose team finished winless on a three-game trip. “I just crossed over and lost an edge. It’s one of those things I can take out of my game totally. But you take it out of my game and maybe I’m not generating.
“In that situation, I had lots of room and I tried to take advantage of it. I lost an edge. Not much I can do about it.”
Erik Johnson also added a short-handed goal for the Avalanche, who picked up a needed home win. They’re 1-3-1 at the Pepsi Center over their last five games.
Iginla had a goal disallowed on an arguable call at 13:51 of the second period. Iginla stopped in front of Ben Scrivens and appeared to graze the goaltender after some contact with a defenceman. Scrivens went flying back as the puck glided in front of the net. Iginla reached over and knocked it in.
As the Avalanche celebrated, the referees waved off the goal and sent Iginla to the penalty box for goaltender interference.
“It doesn’t take a lot to throw you back,” Scrivens explained. “I didn’t think I embellished it. Personally, thought right call. That’s me. I’m biased.”
Nearly three minutes later, Iginla scored again on a power play to tie it at 2. This time, there was no uncertainty.
“We needed to get back on the winning side and being at home we needed to build something again,” Iginla said.
NOTES: Markov scored his fourth goal of the season. … Montreal scratched centre David Desharnais and former Avalanche forward Tomas Fleischmann. … The Avs start a two-game trip Saturday in Edmonton. … Iginla played in his 1,452nd game to take over sole possession of 22nd place on the career list. … With 606 career goals, Iginla moved within two of tying Dino Ciccarelli for 17th on the career list.