Arguments will ensue about tonight's overtime loss as questionable penalty calls and non-calls went on all night. Regardless, the Avalanche could have won this one if they knew how to put games away.
Who was the Avalanche team that showed up in Orange County on Sunday afternoon? It certainly wasn't the team that was in Los Angeles yesterday. The Avs team that dressed today in Anaheim came out with a ton of energy and played with a ferocity I haven't seen yet this year, and it paid off early.
The Avs were controlling the play from the moment the puck dropped. Then at the 2:28 Matt Hunwick sent a rocket on net from about the top of the left wing circle and with Cody McLeod providing a net front presence, he was able to get his stick on it for his 3rd goal of the year.
The Avs would get a total of 4 power play chances during the 1st period, and they would cash in once. With Nick Bonino off for a double minor for high sticking, the Avs would get a full 4 minutes to get the power play goal and increase their lead. During the first half of the double minor, the Avs weren't able to get setup in the zone and therefore didn't generate too many chances. Then during the second half of the power play the Avs were able to get setup, get the puck to Tyson Barrie at the point, who was able to get a hard shot on net. That caused a big, juicy rebound that P.A. Parenteau was able to corral and fire it past Jonas Hiller on the short side to give the Avs a 2-0 lead over the Ducks.
The Ducks would gain just a little bit of momentum back heading into the first intermission as they were able to kill off a couple more Avalanche power plays.
You had to know that a team playing as well as the Ducks wouldn't just lay down and let the Avs roll to win. When the Ducks came out for the second, they were clearly the better team throughout the second period. In fact they outshot the Avs by a margin of 22-10. (Derek passes the baton to Cheryl, who takes the recap home.) Two of those shots found the back of the net as the Ducks tied it up with goals from Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne. One of those questionable non-calls helped Perry get that first goal as he whacked Greg Zanon's stick out of his hands. However, had Zanon continued to play instead of whining to the ref, he might have been able to stop the goal from even happening. Selanne...well, it was a milestone (250th PP goal), so of course it would happen against the Avs.
Just about everyone was thinking at that point that the Ducks had all the momentum. In fact, it was that erroneous belief that allowed John Mitchell to waltz into the Ducks' zone just 40 seconds later and send a curve ball past Hiller. Just like that, Colorado was leading once again with a 3-2 score.
The third period started out choppy for both teams, but Anaheim did the better job of controlling the puck. About halfway into the third frame, the inevitable happened and the score was tied once again off of a wrist shot by Ryan Getzlaf. Instead of amping up play, the Avs chose to slow things down before turning on some pressure in the final minutes of regulation. Solid saves on both ends took the game into overtime.
Most of OT was all about Duck possession, but a solid shift by Gabe Landeskog and Matt Duchene created a couple of chances. But another weak call by the refs—this time, it was hooking on Ryan O'Byrne—gave Anaheim the chance to close things out. And of course they did. 4-3 Ducks with 1:01 left in OT.
Official Three Stars (chosen by somebody who clearly lives in Orange County):
1. Corey Perry
2. Ryan Getzlaf
3. Francois Beauchemin
Cheryl's Avalanche Stick Taps:
- Stefan Elliott for taking on two of the Ducks' best forwards one-on-one and shutting both of them down
- JS Giguere for making some brilliant saves for such an old guy (even though I know he's going to have nightmares about that one puck he thought he had...)
- Gabe Landeskog for refusing to play scared after such a bad head injury
- Matt Hunwick for breaking McLeod's stick on that first goal (#subtlepower)