With very little flow to the game during the first two minutes of the game, and by little I mean absolutely none, I was starting to wonder if the entire game was going to be like this.
Just when I was starting to think Erik Johnson was starting to become the defenseman I thought we were getting when we gave the Blues Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris "GD" Stewart, he sends an absolutely horrible pass to Matt Hunwick. Jamie Benn was able to easily poke the puck away and go in all alone on and beat Varlamov on the far side for his first goal of the season. During the first intermission "expert analyst" Mike Milbury claimed the goal was Hunwick's fault.
Just about a minute later there was a scary moment. With his eyes looking directly at the, referee Chris Rooney took a deflected puck off the side of his head. He laid on the ice motionless for several minutes. The trainers brought out the stretcher, but he was able to skate off the ice under his own power.
After play resumed, the Avs were able to get a few quality scoring chances but Kari Lehtonen was able to come up with a couple of great saves and maintain the Stars 1-0 lead.
Then Erik Johnson made bonehead play number 2 of the night. Following a defensive zone face-off, the Stars were able to win the draw to Jarmoir Jagr, who as able to walk right into the slot and get a great shot on net. Varly did all he could do with the rebound, but Brendan Morrow was able to get to the loose puck and give the Stars a 2-0 lead.
With Patrick Boredelau already being called for a penalty (charging), Matt Hunnwick took exception to something Antoine Roussel did or said because he cross checked him, then wrestled him to the ground. He was given a minor for roughing to put the Dallas Stars on a full two minute 5 on 3 power play.
Thankfully Semyon Varlamov and the rest of the Avalanche penalty killers showed up to play tonight. The Stars were able to get several high quality scoring chances. The penalty killers had a few blocked shots, and the ones that did get through, Varly turned them all away. It's generally thought that a team which kills a 5 on 3 penalty, steals a lot of momentum from the opposing team.
About five minutes after the Avs were able to kill the 5 on 3, the momentum shift would be completed. Almost as if on cue, Milan Hejduk was able to score his first goal of the season at 18:21 of the first period. The play was setup off a nifty play by Paul Stastny, who was able to get the puck to John Mitchell. Mitchy was able to get a shot low on the pads of Lehtonen and just as he is on so many occasions, Hejduk was there to bury the rebound to pull the Avs to within 1.
For about 5 straight minutes of playing time, the Colorado Avalanche were on the power play. At some point the Avs power play has to score...right? Well, after their 3rd chance in a row and 4th of the game, the Avs were finally able to score a goal on the power play. Jamie McGinn sent a nifty behind the back pass to a waiting Paul Stastny who was able to get the shot on Lehtonen. It rebounded into the air off of the Stars' netminder, and Parenteau as able to bat it out of the air and past the Stars goalie to tie the game 2-2.
Less than four minutes later though, Dallas would regain their one goal lead. With a delayed penalty call on for nearly a full two minutes, the Avs were clearly caught lazily skating back into their own zone. It appeared as though the Avs were simply waiting for someone to touch the puck and get ready to kill the penalty. The Avs failed to account for Stars' sniper Jamie Benn though, and he was literally allowed to walk to the middle of the ice near the hash marks and fired an absolute laser past Varlamov; he had absolutely no chance on the shot.
The first half of the third period didn't have a whole lot going on. Due to time constraints we will now skip forward in this recap.
With just over 5 minutes to play, Greg Zanon grabbed onto Reilly Smith and put the Dallas Stars on the power play. Dumb penalties like this one are going to be the reason this team will not make the playoffs this year, again. The Avs were fortunately able to kill nearly the entire penalty, but as Ryan O'Byrne was clear the puck out of the zone on his backhand, he fired it over the glass and into the crowd. The Avs would also kill that penalty off, but the damage was done. With nearly 4 of the last 6 minutes of the game spent on the penalty kill, it was too much for the Avs to overcome.
Next up for the Avs, the high flying Anaheim Ducks come to town on Wednesday night.
Derek's Three Stars of the Night:
3rd Star: P.A. Parentau (1G)
2nd Star: Jamie Benn (2G, 1A)
1st Star: Milan Hejduk (1G, 1,000th NHL Game)