photo courtesy of Jack Dempsey/AP
The streak had to end sometime.
Through a combination of sloppy defense, shaky goaltending and uncoordinated offense, the Avalanche lost at home for the first time this season, 4-3 to the Vancouver Canucks.
The Canucks' defense, which had so far this season been very bad, came through in a big way against the Avalanche, especially early in the game. Colorado's defense, on the other hand, played poorly most of the night. Scott Hannan had a horrible game. He gave up the puck repeatedly, missed easy checks and took two sloppy penalties, including a bad holding call in the third period that created a Canucks' 5-on-3 and an easy goal for them. Hannan was on the ice for two Vancouver goals and none for the Avalanche. Kurt Sauer can't be excused, either, since a screw up by him in the first period resulted in a goal by Daniel Sedin after Sauer passed it directly to Markus Naslund for no good reason at all.
The Avlanche penalty kill wasn't as good as previous games, and allowed two power play goals on six chances. Not horrible, but not as good as usual. The Avs scored only one goal on six power play chances, a great shot by Marek Svatos at 5:06 in the third period. Svatos would add another goal with ten seconds left in the game, but it wasn't enough to bring the team back.
Jeff Finger played extremely well throughout the night, and had a gorgeous shorthanded, backhand goal in the second period that tied the game at 1-1. Defensively he was very solid, and was only on the ice for the final Vancouver score, that 5-on-3 goal I mentioned earlier. Finger was named the third star.
Paul Stastny played fairly well and managed two assists, both passes to Marek Svatos. Maybe his Czech fetish does extend to other teammates, which is good, since Milan Hejduk got moved to the first line with Ryan Smyth and Joe Sakic but managed only two shots on goal and not much else. Super Joe, by the way, and John-Michael Liles had the second assists on Svatos' two goals.
It has to be said that the game was both won and lost by the goaltenders. Roberto Luongo was solid, stopping 29 of 32 shots, including some really tough ones off multiple rebounds in the slot. He finally had good defense in front of him (at least for part of the game), which helped, but it was all him by the third period. On the other end of the ice, Peter Budaj struggled, losing his first game in four starts. He stopped only 18 of 22 shots, but he didn't get much help from the sloppy defense in front of him, as I've already mentioned.
The Avalanche continues to improve in the circle, winning 34 face-offs to the Canucks' 28, but their puck control efforts were thwarted by committing 13 giveaways (compared to just two by Vancouver). All around a sloppy game for Colorado.
The next game for the Avalanche is Monday night against Calgary (booooo) in the Pepsi Center. The Avalanche are 2-0 against the Flame-Outs so far this season and will look to extend that streak. Jose Theodore will be the likely starter in net.
Stars of the Game:
- Daniel Sedin (2g, 1a)
- Roberto Luongo (29sv, .906)
- Jeff Finger (1g, 0a)