Things got off to a fast start tonight on the first shift when Duchene broke into the Blue Jackets zone as they thought about going for a line change. Four Columbus players collapsed on Duchene who somehow found a streaking Parenteau who corralled the pass and whipped it past a sliding Bobrovsky. It wasn't the hardest or prettiest shot, but the play unfolded so quickly the visiting team seemed surprised. Good heads up play by Jan Hejda to turn the BJs clear around against them and ignite the play. 1-0 Avalanche.
Then I got my wish! Bordeleau dropped the gloves! Lots of haymakers tossed by Bordeleau against Boll, but not many connections. Still, it was impressive to see Bordy's strength and commitment of trying to simply knock his opponent's head off. Unfortunately, Mitchell's head wasn't as lucky as Boll's, and he took a shot off his mug moments after the fight. Blood. Locker room. Stitches. Bruising. Swelling. Mitchell would return to start the second period sporting a huge bandage on his brow. Respect.
With just over 7 minutes to go in the first, Mark Olver hustled off for a line change while Johnson and Hejduk kept the puck alive in the offensive zone. Duchene, fresh off the bench, waltzed right into the slot undetected to pound home a juicy rebound for his first tally of the season. 2-0 Colorado.
A parade of penalties closed out an eventful 1st period, the highlight being when Jamie McGinn CRUSHED Anisimov with a clean hard hit. Brandon Dubinsky took offense and dropped the gloves with McGinn, who seemed to get the better of things before falling to the ice where Dubinsky got in a few cheap shots to soundly dishonor himself and his entire family.
The second period was church quiet compared to the raucous first. Both teams traded penalties and powerplays throughout the middle frame, but the best chance came at even strength off of Foligno's stick when he made a slick move that probably would beat most goaltenders on most nights, but Varlamov is not most goaltenders. The Avs' #1 kept his left pad down to keep the puck out - even with two other Blue Jackets smacking away at it after the initial save. Period ends the way it started, 2-0 Avs.
Varlamov made some unbelievable saves to begin the third period and maintain the lead. John Mitchell decided that he didn't want Varly to have to do it all by himself and so he danced around his defender and beat Bobrovsky with a quick wrister to put the Avs up 3-0. Altitude cut to Mitchell on the bench after and his face was a battered beauty: bandage across his brow, bandage across his nose, a new visor over his wounds, a piece of tissue up his nose, caked blood under the other nostril - and a huge grin on his face. The man is a hockey player.
The Avs clamped down in the third and held off any Columbus rally. With just over a minute left, Duchene flashed his ridiculous speed as he cut -- no, FLEW, past two Blue Jacket players and slid the puck between Bobrovsky's legs while stopping on a dime - 60 to 0 in 0.01 seconds. The play was like a flash of lightning. 4-0 Avs, and they would hold on for the shutout. Lots of strong individual performances tonight to go along with a complete top to bottom team-game as well. Yes it was a tired Columbus team, but the Avs fought for every inch tonight and earned every, well....inch.
MHH Best Three Avs of the Night
- Varlamov, 33 save shutout
- Duchene - 2G, 1A, 3pts
- Mitchell - Blood, Guts, Goal
- Landeskog - Duchene - Parenteau
- McGinn - Stastny - Jones
- McLeod - Mithcell - Hejduk
- Bordeleau - Olver - Kobasew
- Johnson - Wilson
- O`Byrne - Hejda
- Zanon - Hunwick
- Hunwick and Kobasew both had respectable showings in their season debuts. Hunwick's speed is still there and Kobasew actually had two quality scoring opportunities. For realz.
- Very physical game tonight. Big hits. Fights. Blood. Rage. The Avs have publicly stated that they want to be tougher to play against, and even though we're only 3 games in, it is blatantly obvious that this rendition of the Colorado Avalanche will not have a reputation for being soft or easy to play against.
- Varlamov looks to be in the zone right now. Calm and confident. He is not only playing well positionally, but he is reading the play and anticipating with an uncanny sense of knowing. He may be part warlock. His strength along the posts was remarkable tonight. Multiple times the opposition pounded away at him, but he doesn't even seem to budge in the least. He may also be part bulldog. Yes, a warlock bulldog. That's what I'm saying.
- The pairing of Wilson and Johnson are turning into a strong duo from end to end. Both youngsters seem to have matured since last season and their confidence in themselves and each other is palpable. Yes, small sample size, but samples can still be tasty - like Johnson breaking up that 2-on-1 all by his lonesome. Mmmm. Tasty.
The Avalanche head for San Jose to kick off a 4-game road trip (their longest of the season) on Saturday.