After an uneventful seven minutes, play started to pick up for the Avalanche. The Carolina Hurricanes got the first couple of chances, but it was all Avs who were kept off the board only because of some impressive play by Carolina goaltender Justin Peters. At the 8:30 mark, Jan Hejda lost a bit of footing, but recovered enough to send the puck up to center ice. Alex Tanguay and Paul Stastny jumped on the opportunity and generated a two-on-one. Tangs sent the puck over to Stastny, whose rebound bounced to the top edge of the crease where a cruising Erik Johnson banked the puck home off his skate. The play was reviewed but ended up standing.
Carolina took that as a challenge and came back with some gusto, but Ryan Murphy fumbled the puck at the Hurricane's blueline. As he reached back to get it, he hit the ice and got his stick under Steve Downie, sending Crazy Eyes sliding up the ice. That was enough to get a tripping penalty but not until after Peters robbed Matt Duchene with a point blank chance. The first clearing attempt on the penalty went flying out of play without touching the glass, putting the Avs two men up on the power play (delay of game). Unfortunately, the boys weren't able to capitalize on the opportunity.
At the 17:32 mark, Duchene did some dippity dos behind the net, making Riley Nash look foolish, and stuffed the puck under Peters' pads to give the boys a two-goal lead. The play wouldn't have happened without some heads up play by Andre Benoit in the defensive zone and pure hard work by Downie and Ryan O'Reilly to get the puck deep into the zone. Shortly thereafter, Gabe Landeskog took a slashing penalty, giving the Hurricanes a power play for the remaining two minutes of the first frame. Solid PKing kept the score 2-0.
It didn't take the Hurricanes long to cut the lead in half. Just 12 seconds, in fact. Defenseman Andrej Sekera sent a beauty of a stretch pass up to Jordan Staal who slid the puck over to local boy Drayson Bowman. Bowman whistled a nice little wrister past Avs goaltender Semyon Varlamov for a 2-1 score. The goal shifted momentum to Carolina.
The surge for the Hurricanes didn't last long. Line after line for the Avs started pummeling the visitors with shots, controlling the puck like bosses. Play mercifully stopped when the puck flew out of the zone. For nearly three minutes, the burgundy and blue boys kept the puck in the offensive zone. Talk about possession.
The Avalanche waves kept coming, and Duchene continued his clinic. It eventually paid dividends as he completely beat defenseman Sekera to send a saucer pass to Tanguay, who was sliding into the slot. One timer and the Avs were up by two again.
With 3:48 left in the period, Jaime McGinn took a tripping penalty, giving the Hurricanes their second power play of the night. As with the first, the Avs killed the penalty without much trouble. It would be the Avs on the power play to finish the period, though, as Landeskog powered through a couple of the Hurricanes' D, forcing Justin Faulk to take a hooking penalty. Going into the locker room, the game remained 3-1.
The boys started out the third on the power play, and this time it panned out. Duchene used his new-found strength on his skates to out muscle Jordan Staal and sent a wrister right over Peters' glove, extending the lead to three. That lead didn't last long . Sekera pinched down low and with all the room in the world sniped one past Varly, putting the score at 4-2.
Almost ten minutes passed with few moments of interest, but then Patrick Bordeleau took a stupid boarding penalty behind the Hurricanes' net, as far as one can be from your own zone. Carolina put pressure on early and often and forced Varly to make his best save of the night, committing grand larceny on Alexander Semin. Hurricanes couldn't get much going after that, though, and the Avs held on for the 4-2 win.
MHH Three Stars
1. Matt Duchene (2g, 1a, sick sick sick)
2. Alex Tanguay (1g, 1a)
3. Paul Stastny (1a, 71% at the dot, 20:20 TOI)
Honorable mentions: Justin Peters (score could've been 10-1 by end of second if it wasn't for the rookie goaltender); Semyon Varlamov (despite little action and shaky play to start, finished strong with .933 save percentage); Andre Benoit (heads up play led to two different goals), John Mitchell (went 7 for 10 on the face off, tenacious little shit), Erik Johnson (goal, 20:33 TOI, 3 shots on net)
Dishonorable mention: the ice (wow, was it bad)
Scratches: Barrie, Holden, McLeod (suspension)
- The Avs had almost twice as many shots on net during the first period than all of the game against Pittsburgh.
- Duchene's 12th career 3+ point game
- Tonight's win put the Avs tops in points and wins in the NHL
- O'Reilly-Duchene-Downie line has 25 points on the season
The Jets fly into town for a 6:00 pm tilt on Sunday night.