In order to kickstart his struggling team Joe Sacco unexpectedly broke up one of the most productive lines in the Western Conference by moving PA Parenteau to the Stastny line and moving the team's SOG leader, Jamie McGinn, to the press box.
The Avs started the game with a good physical tone, as Mark Olver, Cody McLeod and Aaron Palushaj got mixed up with Dallas players in and around the crease. The majority of the first period was played in the neutral zone, with neither team able to tip the momentum in their favor. Matt Hunwick took a likely goal-saving interference penalty 3:16 into the first period and the Avs easily killed the penalty.
With just over 13 minutes to play in the first, Landeskog took the first big open ice hit I can remember since his concussion. Coming up center ice with his head down, the Avs captain was absolutely crushed with a strong, clean body check from Brendan Dillon. Before Avs fans could worry Landeskog quickly bounced back to his feet and into the play.
To the astonishment of most Avs fans Greg Zanon played a strong few shifts at the midpoint of the period; first pinching into a good wristshot down the left side boards, then taking the body on a streaking Erik Cole, but alas, the strong defensive play wouldn't last for the Avs.
With 8 minutes to go in the period the Paul Stastny's line got a great opportunity with a 3 on 2 opportunity, after a good pass from PA Parenteau, Stastny forced a pass back across two Dallas defenseman towards John Mitchell. The resulting turnover and a bad line change from the Avs gave Jaromir Jagr the first goal of the game, when Ryan O'Byrne allowed him to fire an uncontested wrister from the high slot.
Just a few minutes later the Stastny line struck again. After failing to clear the puck out of the zone on three separate opportunities Trevor Daley took a wrist shot from the right side faceoff dot and beat Varlamov on the short side for a 2-0 lead.
Not deterred by the score, Aaron Palushaj started his next shift with a ton of energy, flying down the wing with the puck and drawing a penalty on the Stars. After some good offensive possession, Gabriel Landeskog was fell/tripped/lept on top of Dallas's Kari Lehtonen ending the power play with a goalie interference penalty.
With just 15.3 seconds left in the period the Stars fired a slapshot from the point that sailed past a scrambling Varlamov. The referee immediately waived the goal off, as
Michael Ryder a Dallas player not named Michael Ryder (who was strangely traded for a lower scoring and more expensive Erik Cole) interfered with goalie Semyon Varlamov.
The Avs started the second period well as their role players came out flying. Cody McLeod, Mark Olver and Aaron Palushaj were once again the momentum makers for the Avs, outhitting, outshooting and outskating the Stars early in the period. Just as the Avs started to gather momentum, Paul Stastny took an offensive zone tripping penalty to give the Stars their third power play of the game. Despite a few good opportunities (including a near miss by Ray Whitney on a wide open net) the Avs successfully killed off the penalty.
After the Star power play the game sort of settled into a complacent rhythm of neutral zone play and Jaromir Jagr offensive zone dominance. After a good shift from Matt Duchene the Avs started to steal some of the momentum, and in a fitting meat and potatoes shift, Mark Olver put the Avs on the board off a Patrick Bordeleau rebound.
Unfortunately, the goal only served to remind Dallas that the game wasn't quite over. The Stars responded well to the Avs goal with a big hit from behind on PA Parenteau and several minutes of good offensive possession. In an attempt to jumpstart his team Patrick Bordeleau took a run at Dallas' Jordie Benn and sent the Stars back on the power play.
The Avalanche continued their excellent penalty killing with monster shifts from Ryan O'Reilly, John Mitchell, Gabriel Landeskog and Chuck Kobasew. After a scoring chance for O'Reilly and Mitchell, Gabriel Landeskog took advantage of a tired Stars power play, stole the puck at the blueline, drove the net and picked up his own rebound for the shorthanded goal. Landeskog's sixth of the year marked his second straight game with a shorthanded goal and his fourth consecutive game with a goal.
The Stars responded again some pushing and shoving after the whistle. Vernon Fiddler and PA Parenteau started the action, but it ended with a fight between the Stars' Eric Nystrom and Avs' Jan Hejda. Considering the mismatch, Hejda did well for himself, throwing a few good punches and forcing the fight to a draw. The Avs momentum wouldn't last, however, as Ray Whitney scored the go-ahead goal on the ensuing 4-on-4. Whitney skated circles through the Avs zone, untouched by defenders before firing a backhander towards a screened Semyon Varlamov. Stefan Elliott, who otherwise improved his defensive game tonight, spun in circles in the crease throughout the play.
At the end of the period, Cody McLeod made an undisciplined hit after the buzzer. Despite some "less than gentlemanly" contact from Brenden Dillon in the ensuing scrum, Cody McLeod was assessed the only penalty on the play: 2:00 for roughing.
After killing off the Stars' fifth power play of the night the Avs struggled to get consistent possession of the puck. That is until Ryan O'Reilly picked up the puck on the left side and fired a laser past Kari Kehtonen on the short side. Ryan O'Reilly's third goal was good enough to tie the game with just over 13 minutes left in the game.
What followed was a bizarre sequence of Avalanche breakaways, Dallas tackles and lack of Avalanche power plays. Aaron Palushaj and Chuck Kobasew were both pulled down on back to back fast breaks in clear sight of the ref. While both plays were borderline at worst, one would think that the Avs could draw a penalty, down 5 power plays to 50 seconds on the evening. Believing the refs hadn't seen it the first time, Palushaj snuck past the Dallas Stars for another pseudo breakaway. Palushaj would not be denied his power play and flopped on the ice drawing a very light "hooking" penalty from the Stars.
The Avs failed to gain possession of the puck in the offensive zone for the first 1:10 of the power play. As the second power play unit came onto the ice and the Avs finally entered the zone Aaron Palushaj negated his own penalty, catching a Dallas forward up with a high stick. The Avalanche's ensuing penalty kill was perhaps their worst of the night. Colorado allowed several Dallas scoring chances, but Semyon Varlamov stood tall with a pair of sliding saves.
With just 3:29 seconds left in the game Matt Hunwick's shot deflected off Stephane Robidas helmet and into the crease where the Avalanche's former goal scorer Chuck Kobasew stuffed home the rebound giving the Avalanche a 4-3 lead. The Stars pulled their goalie with roughly a minute left on the clock. The Avs played strong defense on the 6 on 5 opportunity, but failed to get the puck into the Stars zone for an empty net goal.
MHH's Three Stars of the Game
1. Chuck Kobasew (GWG)
2. Mark Olver (3-point night in his return to the lineup)
3. Gabriel Landeskog (2nd consecutive shortie, 4th consecutive game with a goal)
Denver Post's Three Stars
1. Chuck Kobasew (GWG)
2. Jaromir Jagr (3 point night)
3. Ryan O'Reilly (Game tying goal)
- Scouts from the Pittsburgh Penguins were in attendance tonight.
- The money conscious Kroenke's paid $93,292 to fill the pressbox tonight (Jones $48,780, McGinn $20,122, and O'Brien $24,390)
- Parenteau lasted just over a period on Paul Stastny's wing before moving back to a line with Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog
- Neither Duchene nor Parenteau registered a point