Great googely moogely, the Avalanche have done it. For the first time since January 20th, the Avs have beaten a team other than St Louis. Okay, the Oilers aren't exactly top-notch competition, but a win is a win. Add bonus: they only lost one point in the tank standings.
This was a little like the early-season Avs tonight, in that they came out strong, built an early lead...and then sat back in the 3rd period. One thing I didn't realize is that Wednesday's game against Vancouver was the first time all season that the Avs have blown a 2nd intermission lead. Of course, the reason I didn't realize that was because the Avalanche haven't had very many 2nd intermission leads. At any rate, the Avs are one of just 5 teams with 1 or less losses when leading after 2. They almost dropped off that list tonight...but we'll get there in a second.
The Avalanche jumped out to an early lead, when Matt Duchene came in all Sakic-like down the right wing and beat Nikolai Khabibulin (yep, still kicking) with a tricky shot. The Oilers tied it up in the 2nd with a PP goal after Cody McLeod took a double-minor for high sticking. Shockingly, Kevin Porter gave the Avs a lead again just a few minutes later, and the Avs almost made it 3-1 on the subsequent shift. They didn't, though, but still held a 2-1 lead at the break.
You know how this one goes (partly because I told you already, but also because you've watched the Avalanche play with leads before). The Avs sat back, allowing Edmonton to have a 16-5 shot advantage in the 3rd. Thanks to some ultra-stellar play from Brian Elliott, Colorado almost pulled it off. But Kurtis Foster, one of those mythical "free agent" beasts we've heard about, kind of like griffons and unicorns, tied it with less than 4 to play. Edmonton came VERY close to untanking by nearly scoring as time expired, but the Avs held on to the tie. In OT, it was all Edmonton again (partly thanks to an ill-advised Jonas Holos penalty), but, again, Elliott - with 1 win in his last 21 decisions - came up big. In the shootout, Matt Duchene, David Jones and Kevin Porter all failed as did the first 4 Edmonton shooters. It came down to the appendically-challenged Ryan Stoa to put a subtle-but-nasty move on Khabibulin to stop the Avs' losing streak at 10 games.
Elliott was excellent tonight (although he wasn't named one of the 3 stars), and the Avs played fairly well as a whole (Erik Johnson's opening bell fight seemed to fire up the team). Still, it's not like they beat the Blue Jackets or something...