That was huge.
The Avalanche needed a strong performance tonight to finally get a streak of two wins together. They didn't get it...but still managed to pull off a dramatic overtime win, dropping the San Jose Sharks 4-3 in overtime. The Sharks outshot the Avs 43-22 and had a 3-1 lead with 12 minutes to play. It wasn't enough.
This game started out almost exactly as it did on Monday, with the Avs giving up a goal on the first shift of the game. I have a small suggestion: ixnay on the ootefay and ilsonway airingpay. Foote and Wilson were on the ice for all three even strength goals scored by the Sharks tonight, just as they were on the ice for both even strength goals scored by the Blues on Monday. It went downhill from there, as the Avalanche gave the Sharks 4 powerplays in the opening frame. But Peter Budaj - who wasn't awarded one of the three stars tonight - kept his team in, turning away 12 of 13 1st period shots. Late in the 1st, the Avalanche finally got a turn with the man advantage and Kevin Shattenkirk capitalized to score his first NHL goal. Thanks to Budaj, the Avalanche escaped the first period with the score tied up at 1.
The 2nd started off exactly the same as the first, with the Sharks scoring on the first shift. Although Foote and Wilson were both on the ice, this one's on the forward who missed covering Dan Boyle sneaking in from the point (I think that was Winnik's guy, but I don't know for sure). Anyway, Boyle scored on a wide open net (not his own) to give the Sharks a 2-1 lead and then 8 minutes later Mike Moore scored his first NHL goal (through a delicious screen by Wilson) to give the Sharks a commanding 3-1 lead.
The Avalanche did pick things up towards the end of the second, mostly through the solid play once again of the 4th line. Cody McLeod, Phillipe Dupuis and Greg Mauldin seemed to be out there for a big chunk of the time in the 2nd and much of that time was spent in the San Jose zone, laying big hits on the Shark's players. None of the trio made it onto the scoresheet tonight, but they definitely had an impact.
Still, at the start of the 3rd the Sharks already had 30+ shots and the Avalanche had 12. This one was all but over. A few minutes in, Jamie McGinn appeared to ice the game when he batted Boyle's shot out of the air and into the net. The referee waved off the goal, though, saying it was hit with a high stick, and the call was surprisingly upheld after review. I have to say, that was a goal. I still say you should be able to get the puck into the net however you can, but his stick seemed to be well below the crossbar when he made contact. It was a huge break for the Avalanche, and, without question, the turning point of the game.
With one last chance to get things moving, the Avs' first line finally made an appearance after a mostly invisible evening. All of a sudden, John-Michael Liles fed Chris Stewart with a nice pass and Stewart skated in hard before beating Antero Nittymaki to make it 3-2. Six minutes later, Paul Stastny circled around before beating Nittymaki with a beautiful shot to tie the game and sending the smallish Pepsi Center crowd into a frenzy. It wasn't quite over; Budaj still had to make some big saves to make sure the game made it to overtime (he stopped all 15 shots in the 3rd).
Once we got to OT, the hero was newly rediscovered Kevin Porter. Porter out-hustled Kent Huskins to a loose puck inside the San Jose blueline and then raced in, firing off a backhand winner as he was falling to the ice. His celebration afterward was pure exuberance (matched by my own little dance in my living room) and you could see how pumped the team was after this one (except for Joe Sacco who raced off the bench, presumably to get that awesome suit to the cleaners or something). The Avalanche had no business winning tonight, but it was a huge victory nonetheless. The kind of victory a team can build on. We're going for three on Friday
Same exact lines as the last game. No Holos. I have a feeling he'll be back on Friday.
- Jones - Stastny - Stewart
- Yip - Duchene - Hejduk
- Porter - O'Reilly - Winnik
- McLeod - Dupuis - Mauldin
- Wilson - Foote
- Hannan - Shattenkirk
- Liles - O'Byrne
- Dan Boyle had 7 shots for the Sharks - none on his own net.
- Liles is now a +11 for the season. His career best is +7, recorded in his rookie year, playing with Rob Blake.
- The Avalanche currently have 4 players averaging a point per game - Stewart (22 in 18 games), Hejduk (20), Stastny (19) and Liles (19)
New York Rangers on Friday