Wow. That was a close one.
Both teams came out of the locker room flying early. For most of the first period it was a seesaw battle with both teams getting good scoring chances. Then with just under half a period to play, Ryan Shannon potted what would be the first of his two goals on the night. That goal seemed to wake up the Avs as for the rest of the period they dominated play and scored twice. Kyle Quincey scored his first goal since late November, 5th on the year, and Chris Durno poked his second career NHL goal through the legs of Senators goalie Pascal Leclaire.
Only one goal was scored during the second period and it was by Matt Duchene, his 11th of the season with the lone assist going to the Milan Hejduk. For those that took part in the GameDay Thread, I miraculously called this one, goal scorer and the assist.
As the game was heading into the 3rd period with the Avs leading 3-1, I just had this feeling that this game was not going to be an easy one to win. The old cliche is that a two goal lead is the worst one in the hockey. Not for our beloved Avs. Our weakness is when we play great and extend the lead to three goals, and it happened AGAIN tonight.
After Ryan O'Reilly scored his 5th goal of the season off a rebound that was made possible by an impressive play and all out hustle of Brandon Yip (1st career NHL assist), that was when the wheels started to get a little shaky. With a 4-1 lead in the 3rd period for most teams, that means the rest of the game is just a formality. Not our boys, they like to make things interesting by giving the opposition a chance to claw their way back into the game.
Nick Foligno and Ryan Shannon scored for the Senators in the 3rd to bring it to 4-3, but from then on Anderson shut the door on the Senators' thoughts of a comeback as he has done so many times this year.
For most of us, watching Craig Anderson steal games for the Avalanche has become almost a nightly ordeal. Tonight was no different for "Andy". Quite frankly, it is something that this team has become too accustomed to in my opinion, and that is continuing to have their goaltender bail them out following lackluster play heading into the 3rd period with a lead.
Tonight was no different. Craig Anderson made 27 saves and was the first star of the game for Colorado in the win. While the number of shots was lower than in the previous 3 games, many of Anderson's saves were of the highlight variety, including one with just under five minutes to play in the 3rd on Chris Campoli. Peter McNabb said it best of Anderson's play thus far this season, "Anderson already has at least 5 of the top 10 saves of the 2009-10 season and we aren't even halfway through it."
It will be interesting to see if Coach Joe Sacco calls Anderson's number again tomorrow as the team travels to "Detoilet" to take on the hate Red Wings. My guess is Andy will get the call tomorrow and Peter Budaj will play when the team travels to Columbus to end the 3 game road trip on Saturday.