DENVER, CO - JANUARY 10: Ryan Wilson #44 of the Colorado Avalanche and Matt Halischuk #24 of the Nashville Predators battle for control of the puck at the Pepsi Center on January 10, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Apparently someone forgot to tell the members of the Colorado Avalanche that the game started at 7:00 pm. And unfortunately, that first period made all the difference in the world. The team came out flat, and like last game against the Blues, the Nashville Predators walked all over the Avs.
Just over four minutes into the game, the Avalanche were completely outworked behind their own net, and the defensive pair of Stefan Elliott and Matt Hunwick had a total breakdown, leaving Nick Spaling all alone out in front. He put Nashville on the board with assists from Gabriel Bourque and Jordin Tootoo. Just a few minutes later, TJ Galiardi was called for tripping, and the Preds capitalized. Ryan Ellis got off a shot from the point from which Daniel Winnik shied away rather than blocking. That nifty little moved got him some pine time while Milan Hejduk double-shifted to replace him. With less than five minutes left, Ryan Suter sent a beauty of a pass from the Nashville blueline to Mike Fisher just as he was entering the Avs' blueline. Fisher passed it up to Martin Erat who scored the third goal of the period.
The Avalanche relieved the B-team for the second and came out like gangbusters. They completely dominated the Predators, outshooting them 18 to 6. Early into the period, the Avalanche went on the power play as Tootoo was called for running Semyon Varlamov. Although the penalty expired without a goal, it was a good power play as the Avalanche controlled the puck for nearly the entire time. They had some good chances, and the hard work sparked a series of strong, impressive shifts across the lines.
Gabriel Landeskog was sent to the penalty box for boarding with just under four minutes left in the period. If you ask me, had Patric Hornqvist stayed on his feet, there wouldn't have been a call. Regardless, the Avs killed that penalty without too much trouble. Less than a minute after the kill, Francis Bouillon returned the favor by giving Colorado a power play on a hooking call. This time, the Avalanche scored on a beautiful sequence between Ryan O'Reilly and Paul Stastny. O'Reilly sent a no-look pass over to Stastny, who was skating up the right side boards. Stastny sent off a high shot on net, and O'Reilly tipped it past an otherwise perfect Pekka Rinne. It's not surprising that Radar was able to net a tip in like that as he and Landeskog spent about twenty minutes working tip ins Monday after practice.
The third period was much more evenly matched between the two teams although the Avalanche seriously started throwing the bodies around. Landeskog, Galiardi and Kyle Quincey all had huge hits. The teams traded chances, but it was Hornqvist that scored, sealing the game with five minutes left.
MHH Avalanche 3 Shiny Things of the Night
- 1 Ryan O'Reilly - scored the lone goal for the Avs
- 2 Paul Stastny - worked hard all night and perfectly set up O'Reilly's goal
- 3 Ryan Wilson - first game back, strong defensive play, 1 hit, 2 blocked shots, 2 shots on net
Honorable Mentions: TJ Galiardi, Kyle Quincey
- 1 Landeskog - O'Reilly - Hejduk
- 2 Galiardi - Stastny - Jones
- 3 Winnik - McClement - Kobasew
- 4 McLeod - Porter - van der Gulik
- 1 Quincey - Wilson
- 2 Hejda - O'Byrne
- 3 Hunwick - Elliott
- 1 Daniel Winnik saw only 12:59 in ice time. Ryan Wilson led all players in ice time (22:28); Gabriel Landeskog was second with 22:01.
- 2 Shots on net at the end of the first: 13 to 6 Nashville; Total shots on net: 33 to 26 Colorado
- 3 Sacco changed up the lines and d-pairings for the second. Hejduk and Jones swapped spots; on defense, Quincey and Elliott were reunited, putting Hunwick with Wilson.
- 4 If Suter or Weber ever play for the Avs, I fear that Peter McNab's head will explode from absolute euphoria.
NHL.com Recap & Highlights
The Avalanche head off to Music City to face the Predators again on Thursday night. Hopefully, this home-and-home will end much like the Chicago one did at the beginning of the year.
GDT Comment of the Night
"I’m typically a fan of allowing a new strategy to play out for a bit, allow the short-term kinks to smooth themselves out… but I think this strategy of getting scored on a whole bunch should be changed immediately." - JProulx