The Avs continue to be the hottest team in hockey outside of New England, as they dumped the Chicago Black Hawks with relative ease tonight, 4-0. With the win, the Avs moved back into that coveted 8th spot in the West and are now 10-2 since not firing coach Joe Sacco.
This was a game that featured two uptempo teams, with both treating the neutral zone as if it was covered in hot coals. Early on, it was a tightly contested contest with play going back and forth with some nice hitting to boot but neither getting many good scoring changes. T.J. Galiardi got the party started at the 12:57 mark; after playing a nice game of keepaway, he pushed the puck back to Erik Johnson on the point who promptly blasted a shot at the net that was deflected nicely by David Jones (yes, a David Jones sighting).
The back-breaker came very early in the 2nd period. An Avalanche defensive gaffe left Patrick Sharp all alone in front of Semyon Varlamov, but Varly deftly poked the puck away. The play immediately went the other way with Paul Stastny and Johnson working it together on the left wing. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford came waaay out of his net, allowing Stastny to feed Galiardi wide open at the other side of the net. Galiardi buried it, making it 2-0 and, I feel, effectively ending it. Honestly, I thought Chicago mostly gave up after that point. Any jump they had early was completely gone and you never saw them do any pushing and shoving after whistles. It just seemed like they were done.
The Avs had some more scoring to do, though. About 7 minutes after the Galiardi goal, the Avs killed off the Hawks only PP on the night. Shane O'Brien had barely stepped out of the box when Gabriel Landeskog fired a hard shot in on Crawford with the rebound going right to the waiting stick of David van Der Gulik. 3-0 Avs. Dan Winnik would feed Chuck Kobasew in front of the net as time was running out to close out the scoring.
At this point, the only real drama was whether Varly would get the shutout and whether Galiardi would get the vaunted "Gordie Howe hat trick". Personally, I find this "stat" to be rather spurious (did I get it right, Dixomatic?). It's just a dopey frivolous stat in my book. Yeah, yeah, the guy can score AND fight. Neat. Seriously, when a 190 lb rat (meant with love) with ZERO career fights turns around and bear hugs Dave Bolland so that he can get a fighting major...well, congrats on a nice game, but I don't think that added anything to it. Sorry, just not a fan.
I am a fan of this win, though. The Avs played well...although they did have some sloppy sections and the Blackhawks had 3 separate 1 on 1 chances on Varly. Overall, though, they outplayed a good Chicago team, got scoring from their 2nd, 3rd and 4th lines and goaltending remains a strength. And it was nice to see a team other than the Avs folding up early. Geez, if this keeps up that Joe Sacco fella might get some Adams Trophy talk...
MHH Avalanche 3 Etoiles of the Night
- T.J. Galiardi. Altidudes called him the Avs best player tonight. Might not go that far, but we'll give him the first etoile
- Semyon Varlamov - 5 goals in his last 4 games. Man, when he gets hot, he gets hot
- Erik Johnson - 2 points tonight to break a 7 game scoreless slump
- Landeskog, O'Reilly, Hejduk
- Galiardi, Stastny, Jones
- Winnik, McClement, Kobasew
- McLeod, Porter, van der Gulik
- Hejda, O'Byrne
- Quincey, Elliott
- O'Brien, Johnson
- All 4 goal scorers played college in New England. Jones and Galiardi played for Dartmouth, van der Gulik played for BU and Kobasew played for BC
- The Avs have 47 points, one less than the Minnesota Wild
- Johnson and O'Brien were both +3 in the game, and the Avs now have 9 players with a positive +/- on the year
NHL.com Recap & Highlights
The Avs are in St Louis on Saturday night. Before the game, the Altidudes announced that J.S. Giguere would get the start