Well what do you know, this team CAN play hockey at a high level. My only question is, is it really that hard to put forth that kind of effort every night, almost like your being paid a lot of money to do so? That's a debate for another time. Right now let's focus on this outstanding effort from the Burgundy and Blue.
From about the 14 minute make of the first period, the Avs pretty much did everything right. They were wining battles to loose pucks, they were playing responsible defensively, and Varlamov was solid in net.
Gabriel Landeskog was a big reason the first goal happened. He had a vital keep in at the blue line and got the puck deep. Ryan O'Reilly continues to play well beyond his years and sent a terrific pass to Milan Hejduk who created some space in the slot and fired it past Martin Brodeur.
As it does so often, the momentum really started to shift in the Avs favor after the goal. Matt Duchene is starting to do the little things necessary to make him a more complete player. He made a great shot block that turned into a breakaway. Unfortunately he lifted the puck high and wide.
Proving again that hard work will cannot be overrated, T.J. Galiardi came absolutely flying off of the bench, stole the puck and shot it past a surprised Marty Brodeur to give the Avs a 2-0 lead.
Shortly after Petr Sykora was sent to the penalty box for interference, and Kevin Porter serving and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for Ryan O'Byrne, the Avs would quickly take advantage of a little more open ice with the teams playing some 4 on 4 hockey. Jan Hejda took a pass from Matt Duchene and let a bomb go from the point and beat a screened Brodeur to put the Avs up 3-0.
The first period was absolutely the way the coaches drew it up on the chalkboard, the question was, could the continue that kind of effort for the rest of the game? The energy was there early as the Avs were able to pin the Devils in there own zone and create a couple of scoring opportunities.
However, you are only going to be able keep a player like Ilya Kovalchuk off the score sheet for so long. Off of a defensive zone miscue, Zach Parise was able to steal the puck, and Adam Henrique sent the puck off of Varly right to Kovalchuk who stuffed it between the legs of Semyon Varlamov.
There wouldn't be anymore scoring in the second period, but it wasn't for a lack of trying. The Devils continued to force the play, but Varly was able to stand tall in net and make the saves he needed to without giving up any bad rebounds. One thing that's often overlooked about a goalie, is his ability to control where the puck goes after he makes a save. A lot of people have told me they thought it just hit the goalie and bounced arbitrarily, which is obviously false.
The Avs started the third period by killing off the remainder of Kyle Quincey's slashing penalty, the Avs killed off all 4 of the Devils power play chances tonight.
I don't think I've ever started off a sentence by saying that a tremendous hit by Milan Hejduk was the key play leading to a goal for the Avs, but that's exactly what happened. Hejduk stapled Anton Volchenkov to the end boards and the puck skittered right to Ryan O'Reilly who's shot was deflected and seemed to float in the net and past Brodeur for a 4-1 lead for the good guys.
I'm not entirely sure which PK system the Avs are employing lately, but they're playing extremely aggressive, and it's working. A product of that will be offensive opportunities while shorthanded. Off a pretty pass from Kyle Quincey, Jay McClement went down to one knee and absolutely roofed a shot up under the cross bar and past Marty Brodeur. It was the 6th shorthanded goal the Devils had given up so far this season. Ironically, they have only given up 5 power play goals against.
Then when I figured all of the scoring was done for the evening, Stefan Elliott made a terrific play to walk the blue line after key face-off win by Ryan O'Reilly, and sent a hard wrist shot up and over the glove of Martin Brodeur, who had an off night tonight. It was Elliott's second goal of his young NHL career and put the Avs up 6-1, which would be the final score.
There are a ton of positive things to build on following this game. Let's hope that's exactly what the Avs do.
- 1 Ryan O'Reilly (1G, 2A)
- 2 Milan Hejduk (1G, 1A)
- 3 Stefan Elliot (1G)
- 1 Duchene-Stastny-Jones
- 2 Hejduk-O'Reilly-Landeksog
- 3 Winnik-Kobasew-McClement
- 4 Galiardi-Yip-Porter
- 1 Quincey-O'Byrne
- 2 Wilson-Elliott
- 3 O'Brien-Hejda
- 1 Stefan Elliott is the first player in Avalanche history to record a point in his first 3 NHL games.
- 2 So far in this young season, the Avs are 6-1 against Eastern Conference opponents.
- 3 The Avs PK has killed off 14 consecutive penalties across 4 games.
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