This game was postured to be a high energy exciting affair between the NHL's two youngest teams, and it didn't disappoint - besides the final score. Damn those past Avalanche players and their hat tricks.
The first minute of the game was played exclusively in the Avalanche zone as the Kings hemmed in the home team before converting just 1 minute in on yet another inconvenient bounce off an Avs' defenseman (remarkably not Quincey), and right to Ponikarovsky. Poni chipped a bankhand into the middle of the net as Anderson (who had lost his stick and was using O'Rielly's as a replacement) tried to slide back in front.
The Avalanche answered back about half way thru the period when Matt Duchene decided to schedule a minor clinic for the Kings defense. Boy Wonder skated around the entire zone protecting the puck (a la Foppa), before unleashing a backhand that went off a Kings defender and right to Milan Hejduk perched on the opposite side of the net. Hejduk seems to have found his hands as he took his time and placed a pretty backhander right into the top of the net. Two weird similar plays on both goals - but seriously, Duchene showed some serious strength and poise on the play - he made that goal happen.
An unnecessary Cumiskey penalty turned into a Kopitar power play goal, which was bound to happen thanks to DDC's preview. The puck found Kopitar's stick off another Avalanche skate. Avs also lost Winnik on that PK as he went to the locker room after blocking a shot (he would return in the 2nd period). 2-1 Kings.
Moments later, Justin Williams said something unkind about John Michael Liles' mother and so the two "fought". A legitimately uneventful affair. Still, I am really enjoying this new Liles who seems 100% invested in every game.
Later in the busy first period, Duchene made yet another strong play by stealing the puck in the neutral zone and drawing a penalty. Stastny scored the PP goal off a bad angle to knot it up a 2 a piece (no skate was involved in the goal). The Avs were quickly back on the PP after Quincey got face to tape with Ryan Smyth's stick, but no magic. End of action-packed 1st. Phew.
The second period continued to be a fast, up and down conflict, resulting in the first of former Avalanche player, Brad Richardson's, three goals. Kings grab their third lead of the game. Stewart almost tied it up after he gobbled up a loose puck, made a nice lateral move through the slot, but just couldn't elevate the puck over Quick's outstretched leg.
The Kings' top line spent a LONG time in the Avs' zone towards the end of the second before Yip (who gave his stick to Winnik who broke his) literally threw the puck down the ice for icing. Sacco wisely utilized his timeout to settle down his squad. The Kings announcers said it was the King's best shift of the year. Great. Glad I could see that. Good for them. Dicks. That momentum carried the Kings onto another powerplay, and another powerplay goal by red hot Dustin Brown.
But then the Avs took advantage of a good forecheck as Galiardi pressured his man to make a bad pass from behind the net that Stewie tipped in-between the circles to a wide open Stastny who buried a wrister for his second of the night. 4-3 Kings.
The third period began with ANOTHER powerplay for the Kings after Hejduk greeted former linemate Ryan Smyth with a high-stick salute for a double minor. Avs get a HUGE penalty kill (which is great, but c'mon fellas, cut down on the over-zealousness will ya?!).
Then the biggest douche play of all time as Stewart's buddy Wayne Simmonds smashed Galiardi's man-parts with a weaselly butt-end spear which thankfully an offical saw (after he watched the jumbo-tron and talked to a crumpled over Galiardi). Dirty, dirty play. Simmonds was lucky to get out of the game with a 5 minute major for butt-ending because Gali would have killed him once his testicles returned from his stomach. On the subsequent powerplay, the Avs moved the puck like a thing of beauty as Stastny found Hejduk for a cross-body one timer. 4-4 and the Avs still on the PP. Oh, but those short handed goals.... Anderson misread the play and ended up out by the side boards while Richardson potted his second goal of the game into a WIDE open net. You hate to say one play lost the game but...... Andy was obviosuly not himself as moments later Richardson beat him again for his first career hat trick, with a harmless shot that Andy should have stopped. Not his finest 3 minutes of hockey.
- Liles tied the NHL record points streak by a defensman to start a season with an assist on Hejduk's second goal. Congrats.
- Anderson did not look particularly sharp in this high scoring affair, as the 6 goals against may attest.
- The Avs lost their second defenseman in as many games to a head injury when Hannan left the game in the 2nd. That makes three Colorado players out with head injuries in about a month. Damn.
- Holos boasts great confidence and composure - especially in the offensive zone. Good, quick, smart decisions with the puck. He's here to stay.
- Congrats to David Van der Gulik on his 1st game with the AVS.
- Duchene displayed some of his old razzle dazzle tonight. He was flying and created offense at will.
- Kovalchuk was a healthy scratch for the Devils tonight. Cap issues anyone? I know a certain Rocky mountain team that could help them out with that.....
Avs at Nucks on Tuesday, 8pm Mountain Time. Let's stop this losing streak at 2.