March 20 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny (26) reacts after scoring during the first period of the game against the Calgary Flames at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
On one of the biggest days in franchise history, the Colorado Avalanche were playing, by far, their biggest game of the season.
Recent history hasn't been kind to the Avs when they are heading into games with more than a day off in between. Specifically they had trouble starting these games "on time", almost as if they need some time to get their legs going. Against a Calgary Flames team that needs a win in this game as badly as the Avs, hopefully it wouldn't take long to "knock the rust off".
Unfortunately for the Avs they didn't start the game the way they wanted to, at least right away that is. Just 1:47 into the first period Matt Stajan was able to walk to the front of the net rather easily and beat Semyon Varlamov between the legs. Even though Varly gave up the goal, it was the weak play in the corner by nearly every player on the ice that allowed Stajan to walk to the front of the net nearly unmolested. It was Stajan's 8th goal of the season and put the Flames on top 1-0.
Even after that goal against, it didn't seem like the Avs had woken up completely from their pre-game naps. Fortunately their was a couple players who had, their names? Who other than Semyon Varlamov and Gabriel Landeskog.
It was his huge hit on Blake Comeau at 7:28 of the first period to finally shake the cobwebs out of, not only Comeau's, but the rest of the Avalanche players head's.
Just over a minute and a half after that huge hit, Paul Stastny was able to make a pretty nifty deflection on shot by Shane O'Brien from the point at the 9:05 mark of the second period. Much like the Flames goal, this goal was a result of some iffy defense. It was Stastny's 19th goal of the season.
Throughout the first period Varly made several big saves, but none bigger than the one he made on 500+ NHL goal scorer, Jerome Iginla with just over 5 minutes to play in the first period. With Iginla in all alone on a breakaway, Varly simply give him nothing to shoot at.
Heading into the second period both teams played a far more conservative game plan than what was executed during the first period of play. Ironically though both goalies were called on to make tremendous saves to keep the game tied at 1 throughout the second period.
There was much of the same heading to the into the third period, several quality scoring chances and several quality saves by both Miikka Kiprusoff and Semyon Varlamov.
What's an Avalanche game without a little bit of controversy. Throughout the game, but specifically the third period, there were several key non-calls that went against the Avs. Now I know that there was probably a couple calls that the Avs probably got away with as well, it's part of the game. However, none were of the egregious nature that the non-call on the high stick by Mark Giordano on Ryan O'Reilly. Just by looking at O'Reilly's nose on the bench, there was no doubt in my mind that it was broken, but The Factor is hockey player and he was literally back on the ice in just over a few minutes after it happened. That particular incident seemed to fire up the Avs and they were playing with more of a sense of urgency.
In the overtime period, Matt Hunwick did what he has become great at, making an end to end rush. He then made a great chip pass to Paul Stastny who drove the puck to the net. That enabled David Jones to chip the puck off of Kipper's left skate and into the Avs' net and give the boys a huge two points in the standings. With the win the Avs climbed into seventh place, and that's where they will stay until at least Thursday when they take on the Phoenix Coyotes.
MHH Avalanche 3 Stars of the Night
- 1 Semyon Varlamov, 31 saves, .969 save percentage
- 2 Paul Stastny, 1G, 1A, primary assist on the GWG
- 3 David Jones, GWG in overtime after big collision with Cory Sarich
- 1 Landeskog-O'Reilly-Downie
- 2 McGinn-Stastny-Jones
- 3 Mueller-Duchene-Hejduk
- 4 McLeod-McClement-Olver
- 1 Barrie-Hunwick
- 2 O'Brien-Wilson
- 3 Hejda-O'Byrne
- 1 Gabriel Landeskog became only the second rookie in NHL history to eclipse both 20 goals and 200 hits in his rookie season.
- 2 The Avalanche have now gone 11-3-1 since February 22nd and are tied with Pittsburgh with 11 wins over that time span.
- 3 Again, Semyon Varlamov is playing like the goalie Greg Sherman thought he was going to get when he sent Colorado's first round draft pick to the Washington Capitals back in July.
NHL.com Recap & Highlights
The Colorado Avalanche make a trip to the desert on Thursday night and will take on the Phoenix Coyotes. It's going to be another huge game for both teams. An interesting thing to keep your eyes on, will the Coyotes have Shane Doan who flagrantly elbowed Dallas forward Jamie Benn in the head? Will the Coyotes have Radim Vrbata who missed tonight's game in Dallas with flu like symptoms? Both good be very big breaks for the Avs if neither players are able to go on Thursday.