At the end of tonight's game, Blues' play-by-play guy John Kelly said the line that Avalanche have heard time and time again: "thank you, thank you, thank you". Although he was directing it at Patrick Berglund for firing the winning shot toward the goal, it could have equally applied to Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov. His teammates can thank him for getting them a point tonight.
The Avs were playing the 2nd night of a back-to-back - with travel - and it showed. The Blues had the better jump out of the gates...and then pretty much every step of the way until the end. The first period was a whistle-heavy affair - offsides, icing, frozen pucks and three brutally stupid penalties by the Avalanche (Jay McClement, Chuck Kobasew and Ryan O'Byrne). The Avalanche had killed off 13 straight penalties going into tonight, nearing their season high of 15. They didn't make it. David Perron scored on the first PP (with McClement in the box for an inexplicable tackle on Barrett Jackman) and then followed it up with a goal on the 2nd PP (a 5 on 3 with Chuck Kobasew off for blatantly obvious trip, and O'Byrne off for a dumb-headed boarding play). The Avalanche managed a couple of goals of their own, with David van der Gulik winning an offensive zone draw and dropping it back to Shane O'Brien with a beautiful shot that either fooled Elliott or was deflected. And Erik Johnson later scored on a blistering point shot on the PP, doubling his goal output for the year.
That would cover the regulation scoring. The Avalanche didn't have a ton of steam to start with and lost ground as the night went on. They were outshot in every period and the margin got wider as the night went on: 11-8 in the first, 13-6 in the 2nd, 18-4 in the 3rd. I'm not really picking on the Avs here, as it was clear they didn't have much in the tank and did their best to hang on against an onslaught from a sharp St Louis team. All in all, the Blues fired 79 shots, with 44 of them making it on net. The Avs took 35 shots, with 19 getting through to Brian Elliott.
Although several Avs looked okay tonight - O'Reilly and Landeskog (again), Johnson, David van der Gulik in a strong cameo role - the Avalanche story tonight was Semyon Varlamov. The first Perron goal was kind of shaky (he seemed to have it stopped but then lost the puck into the net when shifting his pads), but he appeared to gain strength as the night wore on while his teammates were wearing down. There was a shift midway through the 3rd where the Avalanche were stuck in their zone for a LONG time (Jan Hejda ended up on the ice for 2:54); I was fairly certain that was going to end poorly, but Varly made some huge saves and kept his team alive.
The Blues eventually scored late in OT (on a deflected knuckler that fooled Varly), but the fact that the Avalanche managed a point tonight is a testament to the strong play of Varlamov. Next time, hopefully they'll have some fresher legs so they can get him that much needed must-win.
MHH Best Three Avs of the Night
- 3rd period Varlamov (18 saves)
- 2nd period Varlamov (13 saves)
- 1st period Varlamov (9 saves)
- Landeskog - O'Reilly - Mueller
- Jones - Stastny - Hejduk
- Winnik - McClement - Kobasew
- McLeod - van der Gulik
- Quincey - Jones
- Hejda - O'Byrne
- O'Brien - Barrie
Wasn't watching the Avs' feed, so not sure where Galiardi was tonight. Healthy scratch?
- Milan Hejduk played in his 967th regular season game, tying him for 2nd on the franchise all-time list (about 400 behind Joe Sakic). However, for just Avalanche totals, Hejduk is #1.
- The next active Avalanche players on the list? Paul Stastny (402) and Cody McLeod (323), followed by David Jones (214), Ryan O'Reilly (211) and Matt Duchene (200). Crazy.
- Tyson Barrie had just 11:44 of ice time, lowest of the 7 D the Avs dressed
NHL.com Recap & Highlights
NW matchup on Wednesday, with Avs in Vancouver. Oh fuck.