Feb 22 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov (1) receives congratulations from right wing Steve Downie (27) after the game against the Los Angeles Kings at the Pepsi Center. The Avalanche won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
Let's just jump right into the busy first period:
Downie threw a good hit in the offensive zone on the very first shift of the game - that's a good way to win over your new teammates. Welcome Stevie D! With the addition of Downie, that meant 4 new lines tonight, and it was the freshly formed 4th line that found chemistry first as Winnik and Olver worked hard in the corner springing Jones with the puck. Jones started towards the back of the goal and sent a no-look pass to Olver who had slipped out into the face off circle. Olver fired a one-timer that beat Quick and rattled the top of the cage. 1-0 Avs.
With 6:56 left in the period, Stastny benefited from a lazy play by Clifford who sent the puck behind his own net to what he thought was his D partner but in actuality was Paul Stastny who immediately wrapped the puck around the goal and past an unready Jonathan Quick. 2-0 Avalanche.
About a minute after Stastny's goal, Steve Downie tapped Justin Williams with his stick in neutral ice and Williams inexplicably crashed to the ice. The Avs killed the ghost penalty and used the momentum to score their third goal of the period - and credit Sacco here because he had a defensive zone face off and put two of his best face off men out there in the patchwork line of O'Reilly, McClement, and Kobasew. McClement took the face off, O'Reilly grabbed the puck and skated it out of the zone, all three forwards rushed up ice, and McClement tipped (with his skate) O'Reilly's shot/pass past Quick to make it 3-0. Los Angeles played last night and it showed as the Avs were all over them in a fantastic first period.
Some line-up changes for both teams to start the second period: Bernier displaced Quick in net for the Kings, and Erik Johnson left the game with back spasms, leaving the Avs with just 5 defensemen.
A few minutes in, Stastny made an AWFUL pass in front of his own net which led to a turnover and a sure Los Angeles goal if not for some fancy leather work by Varlamov who ROBBED King. His best save of the year?
A long stoppage because of a 10 player scrum with O'Brien doing what he does best: talking. The Avs managed to skate away with a powerplay, but Landeskog took the first bad penalty I can remember him taking as he held Doughty, negating the powerplay. But young Landeskog is a honorable teenager and atoned for his mistake by going beast mode, taking the puck STRONG to the net, creating a rebound that Stastny somehow got his stick on and knocked home as both he and Landeskog were knocked to the ice. 4-0 Avs. Stastny too making up for his mistakes.
The Kings came out shooting in the 3rd. At about 5 minutes in, a Drew Doughty point blast somehow got through as it changed direction a few times on it's way into the back of the net. Minutes later, Varlamov bailed his buddies out again after yet another bad turnover, this one right behind their own net. Somehow, Varly got his pad across to deny Brown and maintain the 3 goal lead and the win. Huge win against a team they are chasing. Thank you sirs, may we have another? Avs sit just two points out of 8th place.
MHH Best Three Avs of the Night
Great team game tonight with solid defense, goaltending, and waves of offense.
- Varlamov - 32 saves, .970 save%, nearly perfect. Bailed his team out over and over.
- Stastny - 2 goals, Johnny on the spot.
- Landeskog - Assist, 4 shots, 4 hits
- Landeskog - O'Reilly - Downie
- Duchene - Stastny - Hejduk
- McLeod - McClement - Kobasew
- Winnik - Olver - Jones
- O'Byrne - Hejda
- Wilson - Johnson
- O'Brien - Elliot
- The Avs put on a hip check clinic tonight. In the first Hejda crushed #22 against the boards as he attempted to bring the puck into the zone. Beauty. Wilson would do the same on Dustin Brown towards the end of the period. Hejda then finished off Kopitar with another booming hip check in the second.
- No your eyes did not deceive you. #27 was on the ice tonight. Downie donned Quincey's old jersey #.
- Game difference: The Avs cashed in on Los Angeles mistakes while the Kings couldn't convert Colorado's errors.
- Jack Johnson played a dirty game tonight. He hit Olver to the ice AFTER Olver scored. He nearly broke Landeskog's back as he knocked his feet out and directed him into the boards.
- I need a to get a Landeskog jersey.
NHL.com Recap & Highlights
The Avalanche scout Rick Nash and Jeff Carter on Friday as they enjoy the BJs in Columbus. 5pm puck drop Mountain Time.