Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
"We're going St. Paddy's, that's why we look so ridiculous." -Kyle Keefe
Just before the game began I received a Skype call from a guy with terrible hair and his assistant. "So you're about to watch the Avalanche-Wild game? We just wanted to warn you ahead of time." I recorded the rest, you can see it here.
The Avs and P.A. Parenteau set the tone early, winning the opening faceoff and icing it, then putting a puck in on Backstrom as Parenteau lost an edge and crashed hilariously into Backstrom's net. This one got chippy as hell from the first minute. The Stastny line pressured in the zone, John Mitchell got a decent chance on Backstrom, and then all of a sudden Mitchell and Gilbert were going, everyone paired off, Clutterbuck tried to pull Mitchell away from Gilbert, and Ryan O'Byrne dropped ‘em with Justin Falk. Falk also received an extra
fifteen yards minor for grabbing and yanking on O'Byrne's facemask. The Avs failed to capitalize.
Then it got despicable out there.
Immediately after the failed PP, McGinn took a frustrated penalty for roughing when he gave a Wild player a shot as the puck went the other way. Ryan Suter unleashed a slapshot past a screened Giguere. On the next faceoff, Patrick Bordeleau dropped em with Mike Rupp in a pure nuclear war of a fight. The ice remained tilted in Minnesota's favor until the puck found its way to an all-alone Devin Setoguchi, who, of course he scored. Sacco called his timeout. Spoiler: it didn't help. At 9:04 the Wild corralled a puck in their own zone, came down the ice basically unmolested, and Heatley rang a shot off the post. Clutterbuck hopped on the rebound and stuck it in from a seriously sharp angle. 3-0, just like that.
The Avalanche kept hitting as Minnesota continued to dominate. At 5:49, though, Palushaj picked up an Aaron Palushaj Hat Trick: picked off an errant pass in the neutral zone, fell down, and assisted on a John Mitchell goal from tight in on Backstrom. But the Wild straight gave zero fucks. Heatley rang yet another shot on the rush off the post, it bounced out to Kyle Brodziak, who kicked it to himself and tapped the rebound in. "Right to the bitter end, this period just will not go away for the Colorado Avalanche," said McNabb, as Mitchell was whistled for tripping Clayton Stoner in the offensive zone, but the Avs won and iced the faceoff, mercifully ending a total disaster of a period. Minnesota led 4-1. DEEP HURTING indeed.
The second period opened with Semyon Varlamov in net for the Avs, who killed the rest of the penalty to Mitchell. At 2:45, Landeskog corralled a puck in the D:-zone and hit a streaking Matt Duchene, who found Parenteau on the goal line. PA fought his way into the crease, Bobby Orr'd, and put the puck behind Backstrom. What a spectacular goal. The Minnesota lead was cut to 2.
Something magical happened. Some actual even back and forth play ensued! At 8:17 Cal Clutterbuck was called for illegally being a pest or something, it certainly wasn't the hook that was called because Duchene chicken-winged his stick pretty obviously, and the Avs got another chance at the PP. The Avs kept solid possession for most of the power play, ultimately not converting, but just as the penalty expired Duchene made a seriously nice play recovering his own blocked shot and found Landeskog in the slot, who snapped it over Backstrom's outstretched pad to make it 4-3. But, about a minute and a half later, a tenacious Wild forecheck generated at least 20 turnovers, which finally resulted in Pierre-Marc Bouchard sniping a puck in the very top corner to extend Minnesota's lead to 2. Both teams would trade excellent chances, especially for David Jones, Zach Parise, and Palushaj, but the period would end 5-3 bad guys.
Minnesota opened the third seemingly content just to sit back and try to block as many shots as possible, until Shane O'Brien gave away a terrible puck, which gave the Wild a wide-open look on Varly from the slot. Luckily it was Clutterbuck and the shot was stopped by Varlamov. The Avalanche would struggle to possess the puck after that. At 9:38, somehow Jan Hejda was the only Avalanche defenseman in sight, as Bouchard found a streaking Setoguchi AV KILLER ALERT who put a shifty little off-speed puck through Varlamov.
Greg Zanon would put a puck on net that was deflected in by Chuck Kobasew, cutting the Minnesota lead to 2, but it was entirely too little, entirely too late, and the rest of the game petered out with a dull whimper. Avs fall 6-4 and remain dead basement in the West. Deep. Hurting.
Top Avs of the Night
- Matt Duchene
- PA Parenteau
- Aaron Palushaj
- Ryan Wilson did not play due to his ankle injury acting up.
- Dany Heatley tallied his 400th career assist in the first period.
- AJ and Cheryl were ready to have the linesmen drawn and quartered, which is always funny to me.
- Despite the fact that the game was never so much as tied after he came into the net, and despite the fact that the Avs actually had a positive goal differential (3-2) with him in net, Varlamov will be credited with the loss because he gave up the GWG. That's silly to me. Goalie wins should work like pitching wins in baseball do.
McGinn Duchene Parenteau
Landeskog O'Reilly Jones
Mitchell Stastny Palushaj
McLeod Kobasew Bordeleau
Scratches: Olver, Hejduk, Wilson
The Avs take on Chicago on Monday.