Game 77: Avalanche 2, Flames 0


photo courtesy of Jack Dempsey/AP

After the Edmonton game, and the wary reports from Sunday's practice, you would have thought Jose Theodore was all washed up---again.  Not so.  Theo tallied his third shutout of the year as the Avalanche blanked Calgary 2-0 at the Pepsi Center.  Theodore made 23 saves, including a couple of great ones on Craig Conroy and Alex Tanguay, to secure the critical win for his team.

Theo had some help, too.  The Avalanche defense was remarkably sound, and all the blueliners had really solid games.  John-Michael Liles was all over the ice, making key checks and mucking up the passing lanes, Jeff Finger and Kurt Sauer were gritty and physical, Jordan Leopold seemed confident despite just returning from a concussion, and Scott Hannan was all over the Flames.  He led the team in ice time and prevented the Flame-Outs from setting up any screens all night long.  He even got involved in the near-constant pushing and shoving matches down low.  In the most notable incident, Dion Phadouche tried to run Theodore, but Hannan checked him and then tossed him to the ice.  Phadouche trying desperately to get away as a team-against-team scrum started was hilarious.  

Speaking of Phadouche (who Dater rightly calls "a punk"), he totally got owned against the boards in his own zone during the third period by Ryan Smyth, who beat out an icing call then made a quick pass to Paul Stastny who fed Milan Hejduk for an insurance goal.  Kipper never saw it coming, and Phadouche looked like a tool for slowing up before touching the puck.  Nice one.

The assist was Stastny's eighth point in a six-game scoring streak.

I guess Ian Laperriere's unceasing smack talk got Dion off his game a bit.  What a shame.  In fact, I think Lappy, Cody McLeod and Jeff Finger deserve an extra star of the game for their expert pestering.  They chirped at Phadouche and Jerome Iginla the entire game, and you could tell it really infuriated the Flames---they played undisciplined, crap hockey for most of the second period because of it.  Nice work, fellas.

Leoprone scored the game-winner in the second period, his first power play goal of the year, off an amazing six-pass sequence that included assists for Peter Forsberg and Wojtek Wolski.  Unfortunately, on the other four Avalanche power plays, they barely got off a shot.  But one is fine, this time.

As for the bigger picture, this was a great win, but the team's not out of the woods yet.  Edmonton beat the hell out of Minnesota to stay just three points behind the Avs, who are now tied in points (but not in games played) with seventh-place Vancouver.  One win isn't going to ensure a playoff spot or any kind of chance at all for success in the post-season.  The Avs need to finish out the last five games with five more victories.  Will it happen?  Probably not, but I'm hopeful.

The next game is Wednesday against the Canucks, who play the Flames tonight.  Maybe both teams will lose.

Stars of the Game:

  1. Jose Theodore (23sv, 1.000)
  1. John-Michael Liles (0g, 0a)
  1. Jordan Leopold (1g, 0a)

Kittens Killed:

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