Gabriel Landeskog began his post-game press conference on Thursday with a statement.

The Avalanche had just been defeated 2-0 by the Carolina Hurricanes on the road, suffering their first shutout of the season. And Landeskog was ejected upon receiving a 10-minute misconduct in the final seconds.

The game-winning goal scored by the Hurricanes came late in the third following what looked like a questionable missed call by Nino Niederreiter, who seemed to be hooking Avalanche center Nazem Kadri.

“Before you guys start,” he said to the media in the room. “In 11 years, I’ve never sat and talked about referees in a press conference ever.”

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But Thursday was going to be a first for the 10-year Avalanche captain.

“I think (refs) Wes (McCauley) and TJ Luxmore do a great job tonight for 50-some minutes of the game. They called a high stick on Naz on Niederreiter, which might have been a high stick but Niederreiter falls easy.”

Before the questionable missed call moments before the Ethan Bear game-winner, Kadri was also called for a high-sticking penalty earlier in the third, which is what Landeskog is referencing.

In that play, Kadri argued that Niederreiter dove after contact was made. The Avs successfully killed that penalty.

“We’re arguing it’s a flop. They say it’s still a high stick. Fair enough,” he continued. “With 5:50 remaining, Niederreiter is hooking Naz up the boards. The puck turns over, we go the other way, they score. We’re arguing that it’s a hook. They’re saying Naz is flopping. We’re arguing it’s still a hook, just like they were arguing before.”

Landeskog went on to stick up for Kadri in a bigger way, unhappy with the amount of questionable or missed calls that involved his teammate in the third period.

“It’s unfortunate because that’s a playoff game tonight,” he said, as the Avs — the best team in the NHL — and the second-place Hurricanes went head-to-head for the first time this season.

“Whether a guy has been suspended numerous times or not, is he going to be carrying around that heavy baggage forever?” Landeskog said, referring to Kadri and his suspension history — most recently in the 2021 playoffs that kept him out for eight games. “I’m not saying TJ and Wes didn’t call it for that reason, but Naz is a guy that’s competitive. Whether he sold that call or not, you can look at the video and the stick is in his waist and that’s why he loses the puck.”

Landeskog ended his statement with perhaps his harshest words yet: “Sometimes it’s time for players to step up and speak their truth.

“I’m the one looking like an idiot for getting thrown out of the game even though I’m just being honest. I guess TJ didn’t like that I said he had a tough night.”

Aarif Deen
 is our Colorado Avalanche beat reporter. He covers Avs games live from Ball Arena and attends practices, media availabilities and other events pertaining to the Avs on the daily beat. He is also a co-host of Hockey Mountain High: Your go-to Avalanche Podcast. Deen joined Mile High Sports upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department as the assistant sports information director.

Follow him on Twitter @runwriteAarif

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