The secret to bringing about a comeback win was discovered last night by the Colorado Avalanche. It’s simple, really: just match the offer sheet drawn up by the team on the other side of the ice.
Before the game, it was announced that the Calgary Flames made an offer sheet for Ryan O’Reilly, who had been holding out with the Avs for a new contract even after the end of the lockout. The Flames offered $10 million over two years–a prorated $1 million, a $2.5 million signing bonus and $6.5 million next year. Thus, the gauntlet was thrown to Colorado: match within seven days or goodbye O’Reilly.
The specter of the offer sheet hung in the air as the Flames and Avs faced off in the Pepsi Center. The home team didn’t exactly get off to a good start, giving up three Calgary goals in the first period to Jay Bouwmeester, Mike Cammalleri and Jarome Iginla.
But then things started to improve for the Avalanche on their home ice while the team brass were busy matching the offer sheet. Ryan O’Byrne put up his first goal of the season and David Jones added another less than five minutes later to at least bring the game within one. Iginla pushed the Flames ahead yet again with a power play goal before the end of the second, though.
The third period was all Avs, though. Captain Gabriel Landeskog–whose mom was in attendance–led the way with his second goal, Paul Stastny tied it all up at four apiece (this and an assist brought about his 100th career multi-point game) and then Matt Duchene, in his very first game back from injury, scored the go-ahead. Then, just after the announcement of only one minute remaining in the period, Semyon Varlamov made a huge save to ensure the Flames wouldn’t tie it up yet again and possibly force overtime. That Varlamov save is in fact the only one from the third period put on the team website.
So, not only did the Avs keep their good streak on home ice alive and not only did they earn two points in regulation with the 5-4 comeback win, they finally took care of the O’Reilly situation. In fact, that was probably for the best–because O’Reilly played in KHL games after the resolution of the NHL lockout, the Flames could have been in a difficult place trying to even get him on the team, but the situation is much easier for Colorado.
For his part, O’Reilly said via Twitter that he’s ready to put this all behind him:
Sorry to everyone about the situation. I’m very glad to say that it is over and i now can focus on what I love to do.
— Ryan O’Reilly (@Ryan_OReilly90) March 1, 2013
While stuck in limbo, he skated with the OHL London Knights to keep himself in game shape, but it has not yet been announced when he will rejoin the Avalanche lineup.
But take note, NHL teams: if you have an outstanding offer sheet and then aren’t doing so well in a game while the sheet is still active and waiting for a response, just match the offer sheet. It could help in many ways.