Coming into tonight's game against Winnipeg, the big question I had was whether or not the Avs were going to get their legs going after the short road trip and the Christmas holiday. The short answer is yes. They came right out of the gate and were forcing the play in the offensive zone and out shot the Jets 11 to 6. With the exception of a minor mistake by Shane O'Brien who pinched at the wrong time with out a forward to back him up. It led to a 2 on 1 where Evander Kane sent a near perfect wrist shot right past Jean-Sebastien Giguere's glove. The goal came with just over 3 minutes to play in the first period. After that goal Winnipeg appeared to have the Avs back on their heels. They controlled the game and generated a couple more good opportunities before the end of the period.
The second period didn't start exactly how the Avs would have liked as Ryan O'Byrne was called for holding just 40 seconds into the period. They quickly capitalized on the power play. A hard shot was take from the point which bounced around before it made it's way to the front of the net. By the time the puck got to the net, Giguere was so far out of position by playing the original shot, he couldn't recover quick enough and it was a slam dunk for Tim Stapleton. To me, one of Giguere's most glaring weaknesses is hist lack of overall mobility, especially side-to-side. It was exposed right there as he attempted to push across but couldn't.
After giving up the early power play goal the Avs settled in. They were able to get some really good scoring chances and seemed to have to all the momentum. Then boom. Evader Kane came in on a breakaway which Jiggy turned aside. The Avs turned the puck over behind the net then Kane was able to beat his man to the front of the net and poked home his second goal of the night. 3-0 Jets.
Heading into the third period the Avs had to have the first goal in the period if they wanted to have any real chance of coming back in this game. Unfortunately the Jets were the ones who struck first in the third. As Giguere stopped the puck behind his net, he left it for Stefan Elliott who mishandled the puck and put it back in Giguere's skates. Giggy was fortunate not to put it in his own net, but did kick right into the middle of the crease where Jim Slater was there to hammer the puck home for the Jets. It was Slater's 7th goal of the season to put Winnipeg up 4-0.
The Avs started to show a little life as the third period was winding down. The Avs fourth line of McLeod, Van der Gulik, and Porter combined for the Avs first goal of the game off a nifty tic-tac-toe passing play. Porter finished off the play by tipping the puck between Onredj Pavelic's legs. It was Porter's second goal of the season. This line was easily the Avs' best as the game wore on. I think this may have been the case because they were the only ones playing what I call "north south" hockey. They weren't trying anything fancy, they were getting shots on net, winning all the little battles and working harder than any other line.
If the Avs even want to think about making the playoffs, the big names like Stastny, Hejduk, and Duchene need to start contributing.
- 1 Kevin Porter, Scored the Avs only goal on the night.
- 2 Matt Hunwick, Lead the Avs in ice time with 22:57 and had 4 shots on goal.
- 3 David Van der Gulik, He was all over tonight making smart plays, including primary assist on Porter's goal.
- 1 Landeskog-O'Reilly-Hejduk
- 2 Duchene-Stastny-Winnik
- 3 Malone-McClement-Galiardi
- 4 McLeod-Porter-Van Der Gulik
- 1 Johnson-O'Brien
- 2 Hejda-O'Bryne
- 3 Elliott-Hunwick
- 1 David Van der Gulik has been playing some of his best hockey over the last few games and I'm really impressed him. Looks like someone doesn't want to go back to Cleveland anytime soon.
- 2 For the first time in a while Ryan O'Reilly had an almost invisible night. He was 50% on faceoffs, didn't get a shot on net and was a -2. Kane beat him to the net for the Jets' third goal of the night.
- 3 Even after receiving a game misconduct last night, Cody McLeod was in tonight's lineup. Not sure if there will be any further disciplinary action coming from the NHL.
NHL.com Recap & Highlights
The Avs welcome the old Winnipeg Jets, now the Phoenix Coyotes, into town on Thursday night. This will be a significant game for Ryan O'Reilly as he will face his older brother Cal. Also, former Avs defenseman Derek Morris will make a return visit to Denver.