The Avs win their 8th straight against the Canucks
Photo by David Zulobowski (AP)
It didn't start out very promising, but in the end, the Avalanche pulled out a shootout win over the Canucks, 5-4. The Avs have now won 8 in a row against Vancouver; the Canucks last beat the Avalanche on November 9th, 2007.
I have written the following sentence so many times this year that I might as well create a keyboard shortcut for it: the Avalanche started the game rather flat. 4th liner Darcy Hordichuk floated a knuckle ball over Budaj's shoulder just 2:17 into the game (I'm not 100% sure, but I think Budaj thought it was sailing over the net). It was Vancouver's only goal of the period, but they could have had more. Surprisingly, the Avs have just been outscored 23-22 in the first period this year, and I think that's because of Peter Budaj - the team hasn't played all that well in front of him in the opening frame, and last night was no exception. No jump, no hustle and no hitting.
That changed in the 2nd. During the 2nd intermission, Cody McCormick was interviewed (I watched the Canuck's feed) and said the team didn't like how they came out in the game, and had talked about working more in the 2nd, and you were able to see that on the ice. The Avs had a lot more jump, and no one embodied that more than David Jones. Around the 5 minute mark in the 2nd, Jones grabbed a rebound about 10 feet in front of Budaj and was off to the races, making an inside-out move on Willie Mitchell and then blowing around Shane O'Brien before making a diving shot on net that deflected off of Mitchell's stick and past Corey Schneider to tie the game at 1. It was a highlight reel goal and if you haven't seen it, you should check it out. (Go ahead, I'll wait).
About 6 minutes later, Ryan Smyth scored on a slapper from his usual spot just inside the blueline. It was the first of a couple soft goals that the rookie Schneider gave up in the game, and it gave the Avalanche a brief 2-1 lead.
I wouldn't go so far as to describe the next few minutes as "all hell breaking loose", but the game did devolve a little bit. The Canucks were already a little riled up from an earlier play when Ian Laperriere boarded Daniel Sedin when Cody McLeod pushed them over the edge by doing the same with Kevin Bieksa. The teams exchanged many pleasantries after that one, and 4 players - Bieksa, McLeod, Chris Stewart and Steve Bernier - ended up in the penalty box and just a few minutes after that Cody McCormick and Hordichuk would also square off. McLeod was fortunate that he only received 2 minutes - it was a nasty hit. Personally, I think the Avalanche could use a little more of the nastiness like we saw in the 2nd period. While I don't want to advocate dirty play, I think a few more big hits like that might fire up the team in the way it did the Pepsi Center crowd last night. In this game, it actually worked against the Avs - Daniel Sedin and Steve Bernier both scored within 5 minutes of the McLeod hit to give Vancouver a 3-2 lead after two. Still, over the long haul, it wouldn't hurt the Avs to be a little more intimidating and irritating to oposing clubs. Tony Granato obviously disagrees with me, though, as he benched McCormick, McLeod and Hensick for the entire 3rd period and all of OT. Oh well.
The score sheet shows the Avs outshooting the Canucks 13-6 in the 3rd period, which obviously means they outplayed Vancouver. I don't know where the shots came from, but the team I saw looked flat again - perhaps they could have used a few shifts from the Codys after all. The teams traded even strength goals - Hejduk at 2:50 and Bernier at 9:57 - and it looked like the Avs were on their way to yet another one goal loss. Thankfully, with just under 3 minutes to play, Daniel Tjarnqvist floated a shot past Schneider to tie the game and force OT.
The Avs have yet to see a game decided in overtime this year, and last night was no exception. In the shootout, the Avs went with their bread & butter - Wojtek Wolski (now 5 for 5), Marek Svatos (3 for 6) and Milan Hejduk (3 for 6). All three went to Schneider's stick side, and all three made it look easy. Peter Budaj has been pretty good in shootouts, but it's the scoring of the big three that has been winning shootouts for us - Budaj's .675 save percentage in the SO has him in the middle of the pack, but his 5-1 record is 2nd best.
At the start of the game, it was:
- Smyth, Stastny, Hejduk
- Wolski, Arnason, Svatos
- Lappy, Hensick, Jones
- McLeod, McCormick, Stewart
After the 2nd period, Stewart moved up to the 3rd line (Lappy moved to center) and the Hensick, McLeod and McCormick enjoyed a frothy hot chocolate on the bench. As I missed the Dallas game, this was the first time seeing Stewart. I felt he looked slow and, for some reason, small. But I like that he went hard to the net when his teammate had the puck and I also saw him getting back defensively early in the game. Still, from what little I saw, he doesn't strike me as NHL-ready...yet.
On D, it was
- Tjarnqvist, Leopold
- Hannan, Clark
- Salei, Liles
ITCS Report - the official TOI report is screwed up, but I think I was able to manually fix everything except for Budaj's TOI (so he's missing for a big chunk on the shift chart)
- Tjarnqvist has been solid overall and has been playing good minutes. However, he had a big turnover on his first shift againt Minnesota and opened the 3rd period with a similar move tonight.
- 3 of the last 5 PP goals scored against the Avs have been the result of a Ryan Smyth penalty.
- The Avs won just 31% of the faceoffs in the game. Ryan Kessler won 17 of 24 draws (71%)
- It hasn't been a banner year, for sure, but the Avs are just 7 points out of first in the NW.
The Avs host the LA Kings on Wednesday. We're 2-0 against LA so far this year, winning both games 4-3 (one was a shootout win).
David Jones found the twine tonight as he continues to improve from earlier this season. He's got a ways to go to hit 30 goals though. - Shane Giroux, Colorado Avalanche Talk
Here’s the question: what happens when Foote comes back? Does Sharny - plus-5, three points in eight games - go back on the pine? I’d say what’s more likely is Brett Clark will be dealt by then. I think the writing is on the wall for Clarkie: he’s going to get traded. - Adrian Dater, All Things Avs
After sitting out the first 19 games as the Avalanche's seventh defenseman, Tjarnqvist is playing so well that it will be hard to keep him out of the lineup once Adam Foote returns from his back and knee injuries. - Rick Sadowski, Rocky Mountain News
Wolski is an absolute beast in shootouts, logging the second best percentage of shootout goals all time, while Svatos and Hejduk aren't exactly slouches either. Budaj seems pretty dang confident in net for shootouts as well, something that plagued him earlier in his young career. - Adam Hirsch, An Avalanche of Thoughts
It has gone largely unnoticed this season, but the Avalanche is doing a good job so far keeping the shots- against figure down. The Avs entered Sunday's game third-best in the NHL in shots against per game, at 26.8. The Avs had outshot the opposition 206-151 in the previous seven games.- Adrian Dater, Denver Post
Hejduk has 34 goals in 57 career games against the Canucks, his highest goal total against any NHL team - AP
Bieksa, who was run head-first into the end boards by McLeod in the second period, said he'd be fine for Tuesday's game against the Nashville Predators. - Ian MacIntyre - Vancouver Sun
What was even worse, though, was the goals let in by Cory Schneider and I think those are the type of goals that a rookie goaltender have to get used to just to get the timing and positioning correct. Teh Schneids definitely didn't have much of a chance on the first goal since Willie put it in himself, but the 2nd and the 4th goals were definitely saveable. - Canucks Fangirl, None Shall Pass
To be honest, in a game like this it sure would have been nice to have Roberto Luongo back between the pipes. - Sean Zandberg, Waiting for Stanley