In Joe's aptly named battle of the "cap whores vs cap floors", the Devils came out flying and really took it to the Avs, out-shooting the Boys in Burgundy 6-0 after just 4 mins of play. All that early momentum translated into a T.J. Galiardi penalty. The penalty kill survived, despite doing their best "Brett Clark inability to clear the puck" impersonation. Luckily, Craig Anderson bailed his buddies out as the shots were 11-0 after just 8 minutes of play.
But the Avs wouldn't go 9 minutes without a shot, no sir! Around the 12 minute mark they found themselves on their much maligned powerplay after Winnink found a NJ stick with his face. Blood means 4 minutes, and 4 minutes means some players are going to see powerplay time who might not see the ice during a normal 2 minute PP. So with time ticking down on the man advantage, Sacco threw out Cody McLeod to do what the top 9 forwards couldn't: score. The Highlander hustled up the left side into the offensive zone with good speed, then cut in towards the net and beat the winningest goalie of all time with a shot that Marty would probably like to have back. Credit goes to McLeod though for his hustle and badassness to take it strong to the net. Avs score a PP goal with 4 seconds left on the PP, but more importantly, no short-handed goals allowed!!
Not 30 seconds later, McLeod 's adrenaline got him called for a 5 minute major and game misconduct for boarding. Me thinks he was a little too jazzed after that goal. Ah, youth.... So seconds after the Avs convert on a long 4 minute powerplay, Jersey receives a lengthy 5 minute man-advantage. The Devils thought they tied it up when the puck danced along the goal line, but it trickled out of harm's way before the red light could burn. A little later, on the same PK, Hannan bravely dropped to his knees and blocked a shot in front of a WIDE (I'm talking drive a us thru) open net. Foote, Hannan, Andy, and the posts were all beasts on the PK. Avalanche kill off the monster 5 minute penalty.
First period notes:
- Little Olver had some good plays along the boards.
- Kovalchuk is awesome. Anderson is awesomer.
- Avs out-shot 17-3, yet lead game 1-0. Corsi is so mad right now.
Second Period opened with Zubrus alone on a break-a-way after an ill-advised Adam Foote pinch led to another turnover at the blueline. Luckily Zubrus is an overpaid underachiever and he sent his shot wide. A bit of sloppy back and forth after that until Foote - looking for redemption - hit a post, which made Henrik Tallinder nervous, so he hooked Stastny in front of the NJ net. PP Avalanche. Alas, with no McLeod to carry the powerplay, the Avs struggled to get anything going. Seriously, watching Cumiskey and Wilson manning the point makes me want to kill kittens, puppies, bunnies, and anything fluffy and/or cute.
SoS threw down a great shift at the mid-point of the game, hitting a post and then almost burying another chance from right in front. The new top line of SoS-Hejduk-Stewart looked very good in the 2nd period. But it was when T.J. Galiardi was reunited on a shift with Stastny & Stewie that resulted in fireworks. Galiardi, working hard in front of the net, punched in a rebound off a big Chris Stewart shot. 2-0 Avalanche.
Minutes later, Winnik ran over Martin Brodeur, resulting in another NJ PP (they had already enjoyed 7 minutes on the man-advantage). But you can't give that much fire power that many opportunities, and sure enough,
Zach Parise Matt Taormina scored from the blueline for a powerplay goal. 2-1 Avs.
Then, in one of the great bonehead asshole moves of the young season, Colin White left his feet, leading with his fists and stick, and tried to decapitate Galiardi. Douche. Avs go on the powerplay and Galiradi goes to the locker room. With both Colorado's goal scorers in the locker room, the powerplay tried really, really hard to give up some short handed chances, but the Roadrunner luckily ran them down.
The 5-on-4 turned into a 4-on-3 after Adam Mair cross checked Duchene into the boards from behind. It was not dissimilar to McLeod's hit that granted him a game misconduct, but what can you do? Thankfully, Stewie stepped in to defend Dutchie's honor and ass, yet received 2 mins for his efforts. Still, glad to see somebody stand up for his mates.
Third period: More good work by Olver and the 4th line as they kept the puck down low in the offfensive zone. Then NHL assist leader John-Michael Liles spurred a fast 3 on 2 rush and tossed the puck over to Stewart as he and Stastny crossed the blueline. Another nice move by Liles on this play is that he didn't stop. He continued driving toward the net, pulling the D with him. This allowed Stewie to lock, cock, and blast a speedy slap shot from the right side up and over Brodeur's shoulder. Marty saw it cleanly and Stewart simply beat him with a beauty shot.
After two Devils took runs at Foote's defensive partner, Kyle Cumiskey, and one of those same Devils (Pelley) ran at Duchene, captain Adam Foote decided to intervene. Pelley asked for change, but all Foote had to offer was two fives (meaning his fists - get it? It's a joke. It's a real good joke. I stole it from Strange Brew). I really liked the fact that Foote and Stewart had no hesitation to stick up for their teammates. It's always a good sign when guys don't think twice about protecting their comrades. Unfortunately, momentum is a funny thing, and minutes later Kovalchuk blasted a big slap shot past Craig Anderson, almost mirroring Stewart's score moments ealier. What a poser. 3-2 Avs with a long 11 minutes to play.
Kovy's goal seemed to tilt the ice a bit, but the Avs braced themselves and withstood the storm. O'Reilly made a nice defensive play during a goal mouth scramble to clear the puck to safety. Duchene made a good steal which led to a semi-break which he nearly captialized on, but Brodeur bested him - barely.
In summary, Craig Anderson is all that is perfection. He stole the first period for his team and gave them a chance to pull out the win. He was also a beast at the end of the third when it was all Devils. This is shades of last year's long road game to open the season. I don't think we need to worry about Anderson falling off last year's elite level. Maybe that crappy Jeff Carter goal on Monday lit a fire. I think we may now finally know why the front office has saved all that cap room.....
- Jones, who has almost invisible in the first two periods, came out strong in the third and created several decent chances for himself.
- Galiardi returned from the vicious moronic Colin White karate/axe chop to finish the game.
- NJ out shot the Avs 43-22. Anderson made 41 saves.
- The Altidudes were loving on Wilson all game. They also related that the coaching staff is also man-crushing on Wilson. Glad to see Mack Truck has come to play.
- There's lots of good photos from this game. Click the link above in the caption.
- I'm no prophet, but I titled this post (including the score) BEFORE the game started. I promise to do that from now on - after we all punch a sandwich or two of course.
This is how the game started, but there was a lot of juggling and tinkering as the game unfolded, partly due to McLeod being lost to the game misconduct.
- Hejduk, Stastny, Stewart
- Jones, Duchene, Yip
- Galiardi, O'Reilly, Winnik
- McLeod, Dupuis, Olver
- Hannan, Quincey
- Liles, Wilson
- Cumiskey, Foote
The Avalanche cross a couple rivers to play the Islanders on Saturday as they continue the sadistic 3 games in 4 nights schedule of hell. No rest for the weary. It will be a special game for the Islanders as they will be reminded yet again that Duchene > Tavares.