This one started with back and forth, entertaining hockey for the first several minutes as neither team could put any pressure on the puck in the neutral zone. Gabe Landeskog had two near misses, one of which was grabbed with flair by Jonathan Bernier, which was the first whistle of the game nearly six minutes in. TSN was starting to wonder if the game would ever pause. Ads to sell, I guess.
Paul Stastny got beat by Sexy Phil Kessel and took a hooking penalty at the 7:30 mark. The Avs killed the penalty with ease, ending up with more offensive zone possession than the Leafs and giving up 0 shots. Shortly after, a Leafs defenseman fell in his own zone, resulting in several good Avs chances and then a Leafs rush the other way, but ultimately nothing came of it. Landeskog would draw a penalty on Jake Gardiner at 11:20, and while the Avs did at least manage a single shot neither unit looked dangerous. Shortly after, some really nice defense from Leafs super rookie Morgan Rielly on Duchene drew a Toronto rush that ended with Joffrey Lupul just missing an open net.
Toronto dominated the next several minutes of play, which featured a Benny Hill routine, Varly flashing the leather in Gardiner's general direction, Matt Duchene getting away with a little trip on Nazem Kadri, and again, no goals. Matt Duchene drew a holding penalty on Carl Gunnarsson as a fun first period came to a close the way it started: nil apiece.
The second period began with an Avalanche power play that did a decent enough job of maintaining possession but ultimately couldn't produce much. A once-open game became bogged down and slow, as neither side could get much going, even when a Toronto icing resulted in the Leafs bottom line out against the Avs best. Nearly halfway through John Mitchell crashed the net hard but only succeeded in putting himself behind Bernier. Just over halfway through the Avs missed four chances on an open net in a single shift. It was so close to exciting, I swear.
Then the Leafs took over. Several shifts saw the Avs backed into their own end, unable to get out of the zone with possession, until finally a weak pass from Nathan MacKinnon was picked off and Joffrey Lupul hammered in a rebound. 1-0 Toronto.
After the goal Colorado took the game back into the Leafs zone and went to work generating shots--16 total in the period to Toronto's 7. Cody McLeod dropped the gloves in a fight with Troy Bodie. It was exactly as disjointed and forced as the inclusion of that sentence. A few shifts later, the Duchene line did good work keeping the puck in the zone with Duchene himself doing work behind the net, and the puck made its way to Cory Sarich, who walked in and beat a cheating Bernier short side. 1-1. That was how the period would end.
It only took 2:30 into the third for the Avs to take the lead. Nathan MacKinnon lifted Colton Orr's stick, stole the puck, and fed it to McGinn, who entered 2 on 1 with Parenteau. McGinn delivered the sauce over the stick of a sprawling Jake Gardiner and PA does. not. miss. from there. 2-1 Avs. The situation room ruled the puck Not Kicked In. The Avs of the past would have settled back and tried to not give up a goal--but not these Avs. They kept up a solid forecheck and prevented Toronto from getting anything going--barely a shot until ten minutes into the period. Not that the Avs generated anything dangerous either.
Midway through the period momentum shifted back in the Leafs' direction, then Morgan Rielly drew a weak penalty on Cory Sarich with 9:52 to go. The impending Leafs power play was terrifying but ultimately came up fruitless. Almost immediately after, Carl Gunnarsson got called for his second penalty of the night, this time for knocking Duchene's skates out from under him. The Avs didn't get the memo and promptly pissed the entire penalty away.
Roy's Avs hunkered down and clinched their sphincters to hang on to their one-goal lead. Tyler Bozak had multiple chances. James van Reimsdyk had multiple chances. Bernier was prevented from evacuating his net by solid Avalanche forecheck until :33 remained. The Leafs swarmed the crease and hammered away but IT.WOULD.NOT.GO and the Avalanche come away with a 2-1 victory to improve to 3-0-0.
Bits & Links
MHH Three Stars
- Varlamov, again (saved 27 of 28, including 5 saves on the frightening 3rd period PK)
- Duchene (assist, RAN THIS SHIT off and on)
- McGinn (assist)
O'Reilly - DucheneSLAP FIGHT!! - Downie
- Landeskog - Stastny -Tanguay
- McGinn - MacKinnon - Parenteau
- Bordeleau - Mitchell - McLeod
- Varly has only allowed 1 goal in each of his three games. Copy-paste is fun!
- Cory Sarich's goal was his first in 64 games. That's over a full season (thanks, Gary).
- The power play tonight was OOH LAWD bad. Oooohhh. LAWD.
- The Avs were 60% at the faceoff circle tonight, led by Matt Duchene (18/25), John Mitchell (9/11), and Paul Stastny (12/20). Nathan MacKinnon was a woeful 18%. Kid has some learning to do there.
The Avs ship up to Boston for a 7:00 Eastern tilt with the Bruins on Thursday.