Colorado against the Blues tonight. Both teams played last night; Colorado, of course, lost that tough game to Detroit. Meanwhile, the Blues beat the Ducks and so have some momentum in their favor. They also have Manny Legace, who is 12-1-0 lifetime against the Avalanche. He'll face Peter Budaj. I expect Budaj to ride his small sample size to another fine game tonight.
I'm watching the St Louis feed. John "Thank You" Kelly and Bernie Federko.
And it looks like Marek Svatos' gimpy groin is flaring up again. He's out.
20:00 The first line out tonight is Hlinka, McLeod and Hejduk. I'm not sure that McLeod will remain on this line, or if he's just on the first shift in place of Brunette.
19:27 The 2nd line is Arnason, Wolski and Lappy.
18:26 Guite, Richardson and McCormick go out on the 3rd line this evening. Budaj almost gets called with a delay of game penalty for dropping the puck and then freezing it again.
18:07 Hensick, Hejduk and Brunette are out now. I wonder if Parker is dressed, or if it's Sauer as a 7th defenseman.
16:36 Hlinka's out there now on the LW of the Arnason line instead of Wolski.
15:47 There's Sauer. The mystery is solved. I'm really excited to have Sauer back.
14:32 We score! McLeod and Lappy pressures Jackman in the corner. McLeod gets the puck, drops it to Lappy and Lappy immediately centers it to Hensick who has snuck in behind Johnson. Hensick scores his 2nd career goal, and the Avs get a big 1-goal lead.
13:45 Hinote ties it up. He takes a wraparound shot that Budaj stops, but Hinote is able to lift the rebound over Budaj's skate. That's Hinote's 4th goal against the Avalanche in 7 games. This is the guy who managed just 25 goals in 6 seasons in Denver.
12:53 Legace makes a shot on McCormick who had found himself breaking in alone.
6:26 Federko says that Peter McNab told him that this year is "the best job [Quenneville's] done in coaching maybe in his entire career". Can I get a show of hands for those who agree?
6:19 Hlinka scores. He's left all alone in front of Legace. Wolski fires it on net, and Hlinka is right there to knock home the rebound. Two defensive breakdowns from the Blues have lead to two Avalanche goals. 2-1 Colorado.
5:55 Skrastins goes off for tripping. St Louis goes on the powerplay for the first time tonight. The Blues have the 30th ranked PP – the only team in the league with a worse PP than Colorado.
5:26 And, of course, they score. A crisp cross-ice pass finds Kariya in the faceoff circle. Budaj has no chance on the one-timer. We're tied again.
5:17 And Brunette puts the Blues right back on the powerplay. Hooking.
3:17 This one gets killed off.
1:37 Skrastins turns the puck over by trying to make a too-fancy play in the neutral zone. He's been playing well enough to stay under my radar of late (Dario has made this same observation). Not a terrific period tonight.
:22 Big save by Budaj on a point blank shot by David Backes. I know one play is a small sample size, but that looked pretty.
Interesting period. Neither team seems to be very fatigued from playing last night. I think both teams might want to tighten things up in the 2nd period. Shots were 11-9 for the Blues.
During the intermission, John Kelly interviews Quenneville (well, the interview took place before the game and they're just airing it now). He says Stastny hopefully can return "maybe in a week" and that the target date for Sakic and Smyth is "early March" but "hopefully they can return earlier than that." Most everything else involved the usual "every game is going to be tight the rest of the way" rhetoric as well as talk of his time behind the bench in St Louis.
19:28 Another freaking penalty on the Avs. Hlinka for tripping.
12:40 Perron had an open net, but the puck (coming in from the corner) bounces over his stick.
12:32 The Avs are going on the powerplay for the first time. Jackman for interfering with Lappy.
12:27 Wolski has replaced Svatos on the 1st PP unit. Otherwise, it's the same. Hejduk takes the first draw. There's a quick whistle and Wolski takes the next one. Also, Finger is on the point with Liles instead of Clark.
11:33 The 2nd unit looks like 3 centers – Hlinka, Arnason and I think that's Hensick on the left wing. Arnason takes the draw. Sadly, he's the best one of the three.
10:29 Leopold takes a great shot from the slot, and Legace stops it beautifully.
9:59 With Budaj off for a pending Blues penalty call, Wolski (who came on for Budaj) fires the puck from the point and it gets deflected in front by Guite. Wolski played how many games on the point and never once took a shot as good as that one. They review the play, but, for a change, the goal stands. 3-2 Colorado.
9:26 The Blues are going back to the back. Perron for holding the stick. The early penalties were all to the Avs, but things are evening up.
5:51 A little pushing and shoving after a whistle in front of Budaj. Sauer is right in the middle of it. Welcome back, Kurt.
2:09 The Blues have been whistled for offsides a bunch in the late part of the period. Tough to score that way.
1:17 Richardson nearly makes it 4-2. Erik Johnson turns it over behind the net, and the puck ends up on Richardson's stick in front. Big save from Legace there.
The Blues get called for a penalty as time expires, so the Avs will start the 3rd on the PP. Colorado started taking it to the Blues as the 2nd period wore on, even though the Blues have a big shot advantage (24-16) 3-2 Colorado.
20:00 Interestingly, the 2nd unit (Hlinka, Arnason, Hensick) start the 3rd period. Liles is out instead of Leo on the point though, along with Brett Clark.
19:00 And they score. Hensick. Arnason gets the puck down low. He tries to come out in front to stuff it, but loses the puck…and it goes right to TJ Hensick. Hensick has his first career 2-goal game. 4-2 Colorado.
13:36 Andy McDonald scores. The Blues looked to be about done, as the last few minutes they've been stuck in their own end. All of a sudden, they get a break when they force a turnover just as Leopold is pinching towards the net. Perron and Boyes get a quick two on one the other way with Hannan back and Leopold charging to catch up. Perron stops, looks off Budaj and the defensemen and dishes to the trailer on the play, McDonald. Super pass by Perron, great shot by McDonald and also a nice pass by Boyes to start the play off to begin with. Budaj was playing Perron to shoot and ignored both McDonald and Boyes on the back side of the net. Bad decision by Leopold to pinch there. No, terrible decision. St Louis cuts the lead to 4-3 and wakes up the fans in St Louis.
12:02 Oh my. Guite is going off for boarding. Backe is playing the puck on the wall, with his back to the action. Guite comes in and hits him from behind, sending Backes face first into the boards. To Guite's credit, he sticks around to make sure Backes is okay (he spent some time prone on the ice). It's a tough time to give the other team a powerplay.
10:48 Strong kill so far – no chances for St Louis yet.
10:01 No shots on the PP. Great kill.
9:38 I'm a tad surprised that Hlinka is still centering Hejduk and Brunette. I could picture him throwing Hensick there after his two goals.
9:23 Backes rattles the post. Tkachuk raises his stick in celebration. Hey Keith, those don't count.
8:44 Arnason scores. This time, his wraparound works. As he slides it through Legace's pads. 5-3 Colorado. Leopold lets out a big exhale from the bench.
8:23 Perron finds the post and McDonald raises his stick in celebration. Seriously, folks…those DO NOT count.
7:43 This one does. Tkachuk scores from the slot and beats Budaj 5-hole. This is not a strong game from Budaj, which is no doubt giving our friend Thomas some wood.
5:04 Speaking of Hensick, I can't recall seeing him on the ice since that goal a minute in. I'm sure I just missed it. Right?
1:17 Legace is off
:53 Icing on the Avs. I imagine Q will take a time out here. Actually, Murray does. The Avs have done a good job of clogging the center of the ice over the last few shifts. This is one area Sauer is particularly adept at and he is one of the guys out there.
:06 Guite ices it into the empty net. Man, that’s a bullet dodged.
Well, not the greatest of games from the Avs and Budaj, but the two points is nice. Just to follow up on Hensick – he had a total of two shifts after his 2nd goal early in the 3rd…and one of those two shifts was the one where Arnason scored the game winning goal.