March 12 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) reacts after scoring the game winning goal in overtime against the Anaheim Ducks at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
In a game-time decision, Gabriel Landeskog was put into the line up after suffering flu-like symptoms the past two days. One would expect him to be tired, sluggish and slow. One would be wrong.
The first period started out with a lot of back and forth play between the Avalanche and Ducks with neither team getting too many chances. Jamie McGinn continued his torrid scoring pace by netting his 7th point—5th goal—since joining the Avs 7 games ago. He sent home a one-timer from the face off circle that Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller never saw.
Intensity on the ice picked up for both teams after the goal, and Landeskog showed that he was going to play his game, no matter how he felt, with a huge, clean hit that left defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky shaken up. Towards the end of the period, though, the boys started struggling with possession and clearing the puck. However, they were able to make it into intermission with their 1-0 lead intact thanks to some great play by Shane O`Brien and Semyon Varlamov, among others.
Shortly into the second, Ryan Wilson blocked a shot that left him limping and in pain. Like a true warrior, he stayed on his man, gained control of the puck and passed it to clear the zone, finishing his shift. During the same cycle by the Ducks, Varlamov saved the burgundy boys' collective bacon multiple times. As the period wore on, the Ducks gained more and more control of the momentum and the game. If it wasn't for absolutely spectacular play by Varly, the Avs would have been buried.
Hiller was doing his fair share of brilliant saves on the other end. In particular, he robbed McGinn of his second goal of the night after Paul Stastny set him up with a sneaky move into the zone and a pass across the crease. But the Avs didn't continue the pressure, and you could feel it coming. With sustained presence in the zone, the Ducks converted with just 1.4 seconds left in the second as Bobby Ryan and Cam Fowler set up Francois Beauchemin for the tying goal.
Just ten seconds into the third, the refs called the first penalty of the night. Saku Koivu blindsided Stastny, hitting him with his shoulder straight to the head. Inexplicably, the official call was interference. I can't imagine Shanahan will even look at this one. (adjusts tin foil hat) The Avs maintained solid possession and cycled the puck well, generating a couple of quality chances, but Hiller was up to the challenge to keep the game tied at one. Unfortunately, the kill sparked the Ducks. They brought the play into the Avs zone, forcing them to scramble as they unsuccessfully tried to clear the zone. Finally, the boys got a whistle and were able to regroup.
At the 13 minute mark, Jan Hejda sent a heavy shot on net from the point, and Kevin Porter got his stick on it for a perfect tip that gave the Avs the go-ahead goal. A big goal for the birthday boy, things looked really good after that. The Avs got some jump in their step and began to push the play. Unfortunately, O'Brien was called for interference, giving the Ducks the perfect opportunity to get back in the game. And that they did. With just under four minutes to go, Ryan and Matt Beleskey set Teemu Selanne up for the tying goal, his 1,399th career point. It's no surprise the Avs would play host to another milestone by Selanne, this one making him the NHL's top scorer from Finland. He's also 19th overall and 3rd among Europeans (Mirtle, via Twitter).
Tied at 2 with just over 3 minutes left, you knew where this was headed. Ryan O`Reilly was almost the hero as he had a glorious breakaway on Hiller, but he was tripped up by the defense. Plus, the shot he did get off was gloved handily. Normally, I wouldn't have a problem with that non-call but after recent events in which a certain someone got a penalty shot off a "trip" that wasn't even close to this severe, I'm going to call BS on that business. (adjusts tin foil hat) The most interesting part of this was seeing how absolutely pissed off Joe Sacco was. For those that think he doesn't have enough fire, you need to watch that.
In overtime, the puck spent time in each zone until Visnovsky was stripped at the blueline by Matt Hunwick who sent a nice little saucer pass over to Landeskog. Clearly wanting the damn game over so that he could go home and take some Nyquil, the rookie said, "Enough's enough" and snapped a shot that hit the twine. His celebration echoed the feelings of not just the players, but the fans in the arena and at home.
MHH Best Three Avs of the Night
- 1 Gabriel Landeskog - 3 shots, 4 hits, a blocked shot, and the OT game winner (his 1st career OT goal) all while suffering from the flu
- 2 Semyon Varlamov - 38 saves on 40 shots for a .950 save percentage
- 3 Jamie McGinn - 1 goal, team-high shots on net (6)
- 1 Landeskog - O'Reilly - Downie
- 2 McGinn - Stastny - Jones
- 3 Mueller - Olver - Hejduk
- 4 McLeod - McClement - Porter
- 1 O'Brien - Johnson
- 2 O'Byrne - Hejda
- 3 Wilson - Hunwick
- 1 Landeskog set a franchise record in shots on net tonight with 235, surpassing Peter Stastny's record of 232 set in 1980-1981
- 2 Landeskog is in the top three of all offensive categories for rookies: Points (2nd with 44), Goals (T-1st with 19), Assists (3rd, 25) and Plus/Minus (1st, +20)
- 3 In his last 13 games (8-4-1) Semyon Varlamov has allowed 2 or fewer goals 10 times. .950+ SV% 7 times (Cheers to @SCrociata for that stat)
- 4 Matt Hunwick played a team high 21:51
NHL.com Recap & Highlights
The boys head to Buffalo to kick off a three game road trip on Wednesday.