Don't give us none of your aggravation
We had it with your discipline
Saturday night's alright for fighting
Get a little action in
Sadly, there wasn't much fighting last night, although there certainly should have been. There was some crazy action, however, as the Avalanche lost to the Blackhawks 4-3 in the shootout. Once again, we're reminded that these are not the same old-Avs. Even though we ultimately had to settle for the loser point, the Avalanche were fun to watch. Again, that's something we haven't been able to say for a while, save for that too-brief comeback by Peter Forsberg.
It didn't start out crazy. The only scoring in the first period was a Cam Barker goal late in the first facilited by Tomas Kopecky mugging Chris Anderson deep in the paint. Kopecky pulled this stunt all night long and was never called for it. Strangely and conspicuously, no one from the Avalanche stepped up to put a stop to that nonesense. Coming after Thursday's game where no one made Patric Hornqvist pay for his blatant steamrolling of Anderson, I have to say I'm scratching my head a little. A lot, actually. Ditto for the Niklas Hjalmarsson crosscheck to the face of Darcy Tucker. While this was a terrible non-call (the officiating from Ian Walsh and Chris Rooney was horrendous, and this happened in clear view of one of them), it's really something that should have been, uh, handled internally. Cody McLeod did get a hard check on Hjalmarsson late in the 3rd, but that was just an incidental hockey hit. I don't know if it's Sacco keeping everyone on a tight leash or something else, but isn't this exactly why David Koci is dressed?
Okay, back to the game. While there was just the one first period goal, the 2nd period became wide open. I guess it shouldn't be that much of a surprise, as 8 of the Avs 13 goals have been scored in the 2nd frame. Matt Hendricks got things started 2:35 when his hard hit in the corner pressured a Blackhawk to make a bad pass that was intercepted by TJ Galiardi coming in from the bench. Galiardi's shot was stopped, but Hendricks was right there to backhand a rebound over Cristobal Huet's pads. It knotted the game up at 1 and was Hendricks first NHL goal. The Blackhawks appeared to take the lead a couple minutes later when Anderson made a frantic goal line save on a wraparound attempt that was incorrectly called a goal (by a ref who was clearly screened from the puck). Thankfully, the goal was overturned on review. Just a few minutes after that, Wojtek Wolski beautifully redirected Scott Hannan's pass from the point to give the Avalanche their first lead of the game. The celebration was shortlived, as Andrew Ladd took advantaged of some defensive scrambling by the Avs to knot the game up at 2.
One of the bright spots early on this year has been the penalty kill. The Avalanche did allow one PP goal tonight (the Barker goal that should have been waved off), but killed off 4 others including a critical 5 on 3 midway through the 2nd period. Joe Sacco has been using the youngsters on the kill - Galiardi, O'Reilly, McLeod and Duchene are the top 4 forwards in SH ice time - and their aggressive puck pursuit has been paying off so far. And, not long after killing off the 5 on 3, Colorado got a 5 on 3 of their own and converted with Milan Hejduk's first goal of the season. Unfortunately, a big defensive breakdown (and a huge overcommittment by Anderson) allowed the Hawks to tie the game again with a shorthanded goal soon after. After a wild 2nd period, the score was 3-3.
And that was it for the scoring. Both teams tightened up considerably in the 3rd period. There were some chances by both clubs, including a heart-stopping moment as time was running out when Paul Stastny calmly deflected the puck away from a wide open player, but no goals. Both teams then skated through a scoreless OT before going to the shootout.
I could probably fill a recap with just the shootout summary, but I'll keep to the bullet points. Anderson looked shaky early on, but then shook it off. Wolski missed. Svatos fooled Huet so badly with his shot that Huet raised his stick in celebration...only to look behind to see the puck in the net. And Joe Sacco went with Darcy Tucker (who scored) and Matt Hendricks (who didn't come close) instead of Galiardi. I think that covers it.
It's only 4 games, but I am pleased with the Avalanche so far. They are 2-1-1 and have been competitive in every game. It's not all roses, but there's a lot of unexpected bright spots (special teams, Anderson, Quincey, Hannan and Tucker to name a few) that are basking us with little rays of hope. I hope it lasts.
TJ Hensick was a healthy scratch despite what I thought was a good performance on Thursday. David Koci skated for 7 completely invisible shifts in his place. On defense, Ruslan Salei missed the game and has apparently been placed on the IR. For all the improvements the Avalanche organization has made in the area of public relations, they still have a lot of work to do. Note to Avalanche brass: it would be cool to hear about stuff like that before the games, not during the games.
- Wolski - Stastny - Hejduk
- McLeod - Duchene - Svatos
- Tucker - O'Reilly - Stewart
- Koci - Galiardi - Hendricks
- Liles - Foote
- Quincey - Hannan
- Cumiskey - Clark
Many have commented in the game thread behemoth and the post-game reaction that a new line of McLeod - O'Reilly - Galiardi emerged last night and looked pretty good. Another odd one out there at one point was Tucker - Hendricks - Stewart. This was right after Chicago's first goal and I believe they were out there for a reason...but nothing came of it.
- 5 of the 6 goals scored tonight were the first of the season for the goal scorer.
- The Avs have been outshot 51-24 in 3rd periods this year.
- 9 of the Avs' 19 shots were from the defensemen. Kyle Quincey had 4, tops on the team
- Remember that big hit by Wolski on Patrick Kane a few minutes into the game? The scorekeeper didn't; Wolski officially had 0 hits.
The Avalanche have a wake and skate on Monday in Boston. Gametime is 1pm eastern, 11 am in Denver.
The Avalanche played its second game of a seven-game road trip, the team's longest since moving to Denver from Quebec City in 1995. Chicago played its first game at the United Center after opening the season with two contests against Florida in Helsinki, followed by a game in Detroit. - AP
"T.J. Galiardi made the great play, picking off a centering pass there, and I just went to the net and got a rebound goal," Hendricks said. "It was kind of a dirty, ugly one, and I'm glad it's over with. It's kind of a dream come true in a sense; you wait your whole life for that." - Terry Frei, Denver Post
Bottom two lines were very good tonight. Darcy Tucker? What the hell man? This is the energy guy I thought we were getting last year. O'Reilly? Killer game. Great play on the 5 on 3. The Avs need more games like this from their bottom lines. Now only if they had a true 2nd line. - InYouFace, MHH
"I certainly thought [Wolski] played much better tonight," Sacco said. "He had more urgency in his game. He was making better decisions with the puck. He's a good, skilled player, but we want him to compete every shift, every game." - Terry Frei, Denver Post
It’s that simple for the Avs: Paul Stastny needs to average a point a game, period, if this team is going anywhere this season. Tonight in Chicago, when the game was there for the taking, a Stastny goal was what was in order. But it didn’t happen. - Adrian Dater, All Things Avs
here were moments where the Hawks looked like they were dominating the game (including most of the third period) but giving up 3 goals in the second period certainly doesn't make you feel great. I guess it's good that none of the three were high glove side (I don't think they were anyway?) - Matthew Dirt, Second City Hockey
Huet played a solid game and really only let in 1 soft goal , the first Colorado goal was off a rebound. In regulation/OT, Christobal only faced 19 shots. Surprisingly, Huet shined in the shutout, making 6 stops and kept the Hawks in it. - Blackhawks Buzz
It wasn't always pretty, but the Blackhawks gained two important home ice points. The Avs, playing their second of a season-long seven game road trip, proved a little mightier than the preseason predictions of a last place finish in the Western Conference. Behind the strong goaltending of Park Ridge native Craig Anderson, the young Avalanche played a grind-it-out hockey game that was able to keep the Blackhawks off-balance most of the night. - Mark Kiley, Blackhawks Confidential
"That was the deepest I've ever been," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said [obviously forgetting this game]. "Certainly we like the result. We had many times a chance to win it and then Kopecky came up big to sustain it and Ladd finished it. (Huet) made several key saves and gave us a chance to sustain it and we finally won. He looked good there." - Chris Kuc, Chicago Tribune
Sharp is still on the power play point. I don’t see that ending well. - Blackhawkbob, Fifth Feather (we've been there, Bob, and feel your pain).
The Hawks' power play. Once again, the Hawks went on a 5-on-3 power play and the other team had them right where they wanted them. They had a full minute with a 2-man advantage, and managed only one shot. That's unacceptable. - Hockeynight.com (see above)