The Avalanche set the tempo early as they pressured the Blue Jackets for the first two minutes as if on a power play. Perhaps trying to get a momentum shift for his team, Derek Dorsett dropped the gloves with Cody McLeod. The fight was a long one and evenly matched, but rather than lifting the Blue Jackets, it seemed only to spark some chippy play between the teams. After-the-whistle jostling became a common occurrence. The fast, aggressive play from both teams led to three penalties on the Avs: two for boarding and one for holding. The kills were aggressive and kept the Blue Jackets from setting up through most of the time with the man-advantage; the few quality chances the BJs had were snuffed by excellent play from Semyon Varlamov, who was reading the puck well and playing solidly on the posts. There were also a couple of nice short-handed opportunities, the best of which came from a pass by Daniel Winnik to Jay McClement. Clearly Sacco has a lot of (well-deserved) faith in Gabriel Landeskog as he was often on the ice against Rick Nash and Jeff Carter during the BJ’s power plays.
A strong shift by TJ Galiardi, McLeod and McClement set the Avalanche up for the first goal of the night. With bodies crowding the net, Ryan O’Byrne and Ryan Wilson combined to get a shot on net; Galiardi collected the rebound and pocketed the puck. In the final minute, Dorsett took a interference penalty, giving the Avs their first power play of the night. As the period wound down, they struggled to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
The Blue Jackets came out with energy and determination in the second while the Avalanche seemed to sit back a bit. It cost them as a lazy attempt at moving the puck out of the defensive zone resulted in a take-away by Nash. Nash got off a quick shot, and though Varlamov made the first stop, he couldn’t contain the rebound which ended up back on Nash’s stick and in the back of the net.
The goal seemed to wake the Avs out of their slumber, and play evened out some between the two teams. Despite sustained pressure from the third and fourth lines and some puck magic by Matt Duchene and Milan Hejduk, scoring chances were few and far between for the Avs. Their opponent, however, sent a lot rubber Varly’s way. He had some trouble controlling the puck, but thanks to a few lucky bounces - and getting the butt of his stick to the right place at the right time - the score remained tied at 1. The Blue Jackets went on a power play as the Avs took a penalty for too many men on the ice (served by Peter Mueller); it was short-lived, though, as Vinny Prospal got a stick in O’Byrne’s face, creating a minute-long 4-on-4. While the Blue Jackets were able to get some shots on Varly, the Avalanche couldn’t generate much, even when they went on their shortened power play. Clearly, Columbus owned the period as shots on net for the second were 19-7.
Only 1:16 into the third, the Blue Jackets took the lead off a one-timer by Radek Martinek. It was a beauty of a goal, skimming just under Varly’s arm to hit the top left corner of the net. Assists went to Nash and Prospal. Shortly thereafter, both the Avs and the Blue Jackets took penalties (interference on O’Byrne and diving on Derick Brassard), creating another 4-on-4. Right after that, Matt Calvert was called for hooking, and the Avs went 4-on-3. The good guys got one great chance as Hejduk collected a rebound off a huge shot by Johnson and passed it to Duchene from behind the net. Alas, Dutchy just missed the open corner.
The Blue Jackets had a couple of big rushes the other way, but David Jones and Winnik used their wheels to get back and disrupt the plays. Apart from those two chances, Colorado dominated the third period, outshooting their opponents 16 to 1. If not for the stellar play of Steve Mason, the scoreboard would not have remained 2-1. Sacco pulled Varlamov for the extra attacker, and with 40 seconds left, Hejda sent in a screamer of a shot from the left point that caromed off Landeskog and sneaked past the Columbus goaltender, giving the 18-year-old Swede his first NHL goal 3 games into his rookie season. Congrats, Landy!
The goal sent the game into overtime where the Avs put on continued pressure for nearly the entire time. Both the Avs and the BJs got two shots on net during OT, but no one scored. Columbus chose to go first in the shoot out, sending Nash out to face Varlamov. With a sweet backhand glove side, he put his team on the board first. However, Hejduk came right back, cruising up the middle, and beat Mason stick side. Varly swallowed Prospal’s attempt, setting up Duchene to pull the Avs ahead. With some speed and a nice little head fake, Dutchy burried it five hole. Varly gave his team the win with a blocker save on Carter.
All in all, it was a solid effort across the lines and pairings. The third line continues to be monstrous out there, getting similar TOI as the top two lines.
Nothing new here.
- Mueller - Duchene - Hejduk
- Jones - Stastny - Kobasew
- Landeskog - O'Reilly - Winnik
- McLeod - McClement - Galiardi
- Hejda - Johnson
- Quincey - O'Brien
- Wilson - O'Byrne
All About the A
Tonight, the third A was proudly worn by Jay McClement
- Gabriel Landeskog scored his first NHL goal at 19:19 in the third.
- Erik Johnson recorded the most ice time at 28:22, while Milan Hejduk topped the fowards at 20:51
- Ryan O'Reilly was second for forwards in TOI, recording 19:29 (none of which was on the penalty kill)
- Jan Hejda had four shots on net, tying TJ Galiardi and Milan Hejduk
- Ryan O'Byrne continues to be the only guy without a shot on goal this season
- Columbus is now 0-20 on the power play this season; Colorado is 0-10
The Avs face off against the Senators tomorrow at 5:30 pm in Ottawa. There's something really big about this game, but my mind is drawing a blank right now. Some kind of "first time" thing. Oh well, I guess it's not really important.