photos courtesy of AP
Jose Theodore has come a very long way over the past season. If there was any one complaint many of us still harbored about him, it was that he still wasn't really "stealing" games for the Avalanche.
Last night, he stole a game. He snuck in, tied up the owner, wrecked the place and made off like a bandit. The Avalanche beat the Wild 3-2 in game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals solely on the back of a goaltender everyone thought was washed up just a few months ago.
Theodore's Pimp Cane was the strongest it has been all year, as he stopped 38 of 40 shots, including all but one in a flurry of 32 shots in the first two periods. The Avalanche defense gave him almost no help at all, especially in the second frame, but Theo was impossible to beat. The look of frustration on the face of Marian Gaborik's face (still no points in the series) was priceless. Theo stopped four shots from him.
Andrew Brunette opened the scoring for the team with a power play goal with help from Milan Hejduk and Peter Forsberg. Wojtek Wolski followed with his own PP score early in the third period, moving the score to 2-1 for the Avs. The Avs went 2-3 with the man advantage, a slight improvement from the previous game's 2-13 fiasco. But the eventual game-winner came just over a minute later from Paul Stastny, who shoveled a rebound top shelf for his first goal (and first point) of the playoffs. Alexander Ovechkin would have freaked out and jumped through the glass, but Son Of Stastny just raised his arms, looked at his teammates and smiled his big toothless smile. Pure class.
Speaking of class, the Minnesota fans showed tons of it when Ian Laperriere and Derek Boogaard collided mid-ice in the second period. Lappy was clearly shaken up, and was slow to rise from the ice. The crowd at the Xcel Energy Center cheered loudly the whole time, and then booed him as he slowly left the ice. He would later return to the game, no worse for wear---the only thing hurt from the incident was the already bruised reputation of Wild fans. Philadelphia's silly post-game, anti-Ovechkin chant doesn't even compare. Cheering an injury is the lowest of the low.
The Avalanche now have a 3-2 lead in the series heading back to Denver for Saturday's game 6. According to just about every hockey website I've seen the last two days, the team that wins a game 5 goes on to win the series 80% of the time. Let's hope that trend holds true for the Avs.
Jose Theodore, I won't take back all those bad things I said about you last season and early in this one, but you can rest assured (I know it keeps you up at night) that I won't be saying any more bad things for quite a while. Woody Paige has my back.
Now, before I mention the stars of the game, I think it's important to note that Doug Johnson of Let's Play Hockey, the guy who chose them, is a shameless homer. Just thought I'd get that out of the way.
Stars of the Game:
- Jose Theodore (38sv, .950)
- Brian Rolston (1g, 1a)
- Brent Burns (0g, 1a)