Game 21 Recap: Avs Win a Weird One in the Desert, 4-3

Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sport

Strange goals, stranger no-goals, in Avalanche's 16th win.

Let's do this.

Varlamov made a point blank save on Coyote Captain Shane Doan in the early going and Erik Johnson was there to collect the rebound and immediately skate it up ice quashing the threat. Who else is a fan of Erik Johnson 2.0? Last season he seemed to get his game going in his own end, this year he's figuring out the middle of the ice, and his offense seems to be trending upwards…. Sochi?

Stastny did his best to continue his torrid sturdy scoring pace by almost putting one past Mike "Rocket Richard" Smith half-way through the first off a nice play in the slot, but the big Phoenix net minder stood tall.

Avs killed off a Cory Sarich delay of game penalty without manufacturing so much as a single bead of sweat. Max Talbot even yawned at one point, while Hejda and Guenin scoffingly muttered "Really?!?", in their best Seth Myers/Amy Poehler impressions. In heaven, Phil Hartman likely clapped sarcastically.

The Avs were so bored by the Phoenix power play that they decided to give the Yotes another go. Yawn. Sigh. Another penalty killed. First period ends 0-0. Shots 15-8 Phoenix, in large part because of the power plays.

25 seconds in to the 2nd period Talbot took a cross-check to his back in front of Mike Smith, resulting in a 6-second Avalanche power play that ended in a John Mitchell goal from the slot after nobody on either side could settle down the puck on the initial face off. 1-0 Avalanche. MacKinnon and Parenteau with the helpers.

Minutes later MacKinnon nearly made it 2-0 with a strong move to the front of the net, but Smith got a toe out to deny the rookie assist leader.

-- obligatory diaper change break (for my 5-month old, not myself) -- Is this the Utopian meaning of equality? If so, it smells. Bad.

A twice-deflected puck found Benoit's jaw, sending him to the dressing room. He would return later in the period (more on that in a bit).

With 8:34 left in the second, Smith again robbed Paul Stastny in the slot with a sliding stop.

MacKinnon went down pretty easily ~cough~ resulting in an Antoine Vermette penalty. Vermette was quite animated in his plea for a matching minor to MacKinnon for diving, but the refs weren't biting. Karma would seem to side with Vermette as the Avs were denied on the ensuing power play.

Reemerging from the locker room with a few fresh stitches in his chin, Andre Benoit would work his High School geometry skills and double-bank the puck off the post and Smith's back to score his first of the season with 4:10 left in the middle frame. O`Reilly made a never say die play from his belly to keep the play going, and Landeskog set a nice screen in front of Smith. 2-0 Avalanche.

Then. Eww. Stone scored from center ice on what looked to be a dump-in, but he changed direction at the last minute and used the Avalanche defenseman as a long distance screen, catching Varly on a goal you don't see very often. Big goal for the home team, but also a very lame. 2-1 Avs. Shots 28-18 Yotes.

Phoenix, the league leaders in 3rd period comebacks, came out with purpose as Morris (yes, that Morris) blasted a rocket off the post, causing the post to lament the fact it's elements were ever harvested from the Earth and forged into a one-use 3/4 rectangle.

Moments later, the puck crossed the Avalanche goal line after Varlamov lost it under himself, but it was determined in a court of law that the puck was pushed in after the whistle. Yet another Coyote goal was waved off after Moss backed into and over Varlamov. Phoenix was not happy with the call, but when it's that close you gotta err on protecting goalies, right Mike? Still, it's nice to know not everyone in Toronto smokes crack.

All the non-goal goals frustrated Phoenix and ultimately led to an Avalanche power play after Mike Ribiero pulled Mitchell's stick out of his hands in the Avs' zone. Not a great penalty there fella. In fact, that's pretty much the worst kind of penalty you could take, let alone in the third period of a 1-goal game...

The Avs couldn't muster a shot on the power play, failing to apply any urgency and take advantage of the gift man advantage. Not exactly killer instinct, but at least it got Phoenix out of the Avs zone for a few minutes. Unfortunately that failure to put a nail in the coffin bit the Avs directly in the ass moments later when Martin Hanzal's second attempt beat Varlamov to knot things at 2.

The Avs continued to let the Coyotes take it to them, and Hejda got called for hooking. While shorthanded, the puck bounced off the back glass out to Vermette in the slot and he buried it into an open net to make the Avs pay for their lack of fight in the third.

The Avs finally put some offensive effort into the 3rd period with the 3rd line fighting hard in front. Cody McLeod would be rewarded as he sent a backhander behind his back and somehow past Smith to tie it a 3 with just a few minutes left. Phew. Maybe the Avs didn't deserve to tie it up with such a weak third period, but it kind of makes up for the center ice goal by Phoenix. Karma is back!

Hanzal took the second awful Phoenix penalty of the night as he left his feet in an attempt to decapitate Benoit against the boards with only half a minute left in regulation. Benoit took a licking tonight, but kept on ticking. The penalty carried over to overtime, but the Avs couldn't capitalize.

O`Reilly made a highlight reel move during a one-on-one in OT, but failed to finish it for the Sportscentre Top Ten play. (Yes, I spelled center the Canadian way because even if O`Reilly scored, the play wouldn't have been on Sportscenter).

The Avs speed did it's thing and drew a power play with 1:35 left to play when Barrie took a slash to his hand as he shot up ice. This time the Avs executed the power play like they wanted it - or like they hate shootouts as much as Peter McNabb - and Ryan O`Reilly ended it with 41 seconds left. O`Reilly faked the slapper and got off a deceptive snap shot to net the game winner. 4-3 Avs.

The Avs were outshot 44-30, allowed a goal from center ice, and were bailed out during their lackluster third period by Cody McLeod, but wins ain't always purdy. Gotta find a way. Colorado improve to 16-5.

MHH Best Three Avs of the Night

  • Andre Benoit, 1 Goal (1st of the season), 2 Assists, 3 points, several stitches
  • Cody McLeod, big third period goal to push the Avs to OT.
  • Ryan O`Reilly, GW, nice tenacity on Benoit's goal.

Lines

  • Landeskog - MacKinnon - O`Reilly
  • McGinn - Stastny - Parenteau
  • McLeod - Mitchell - Talbot
  • Cliche - Malone - Bordeleau
  • Johnson - Hejda
  • Barrie - Benoit
  • Sarich - Guenin
  • Varlamov

OUT: Wilson (back), Duchene (obliques), Tanguay (knee), Holden (scratched)

Quick Hits

  • Barrie (2 pts last game) got the nod tonight over Holden; the right call by coach Roy.
  • In game, the Altidudes celebrated the stat that the Avs are the only team in the NHL in the top 5 for both goals FOR and goals AGAINST. Early-season prognosticators everywhere hide eyes in shame - as they f'n should.
  • Parenteau didn't make my 3 Stars, but he picked up two helpers in the game and is a huge asset to the Avalanche PP, especially with Tangs out.
  • 44 shots against (I believe) is the most the Avs have allowed all season. Varlamov played well despite the long goal. .932 save%

Next Up

Avalanche in earthquake territory! Avs @ Kings 8:30 MT, Saturday, November 23. The Avalanche have knocked off two the three recent Stanley Cup Champs this season, here's to dropping #3. GO AVS!

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