Jason LaBarbera’s day began at 4:30 in the morning Sunday when he was told he was catching a flight from Norfolk, Virginia to Denver, Colorado to meet the Anaheim Ducks.
The 34-year-old was scheduled to back-up John Gibson as the Ducks were wrapping up a four-game road trip against the Avalanche. Frederik Andersen is day-to-day with leg stiffness.
However, during the team’s pre-game skate at the Pepsi Center, Gibson suffered a lower body injury paving the way for LaBarbera’s first start since December 2013 while he was a member of the Edmonton Oilers.
“That was a three-in-three for me. I’m pretty tired, but what an effort by the guys,” said LaBarbera of the 16 save, 3-2, victory. “I haven’t been around the team much, but that was a pretty impressive effort by everybody. I’ve been in a lot of tough situations in my career, but that was probably the hardest one I’ve been in.”
Added captain Ryan Getzlaf, “’Barbs’ came in on a plane today. He did a great job, ate a lot of pucks and slowed the game down for us.”
With the win, Anaheim is the first team to reach the 10 win mark.
Dennis Everberg opened the scoring just over two minutes into the first period and seemed it like the Ducks would be in for a long night.
However, Corey Perry tied it at 1-1 with his league-leading 11th of the season at 7:20 of the opening period.
After Nathan MacKinnon gave the Avalanche a 2-1 lead, Hampus Lindholm tied it 2-2 and Cam Fowler added the eventual game-winner in highlight-reel fashion as the Ducks won for the third time on the four-game trip.
“On that third goal, we were just lost,” said Avalanche head coach, Patrick Roy. “Jarome (Iginla) lost his position, lost his (defenseman) and it was an easy walk-in for Fowler.
“It’s too bad because we had a really good start and we scored that first goal and then we just stopped playing a bit there. We have to find ways to play 60 minutes, this is how we’re going to win hockey games.
With the loss, the Avalanche have picked up just a single point in four games.