As Kurtis Blow once said (over and over) these are the breaks. The Avalanche went into Detroit tonight and pretty much kept in step with the Red Wings all night long. But a couple of breaks went Detroit's way and the Avalanche ultimately fell short, 2-1.
To my aging eyes, this was about as evenly played hockey game as you're going to see. The first period was mostly whistle-free (and completely penalty free) action. Each team got a couple of chances but no pucks got past Lord Jimmy Howard or J.S. Giguere.
The 2nd period was largely the same, until notorious Avalanche thorn Johan Franzen made what I can only describe as a hell of a fucking play. The Avalanche had the puck in the zone and Stefan Elliott took a slapper from the point which was knocked down by Franzen, Without pausing for a millisecond, Franzen dished it over to Damien Brunner and took off towards the Avalanche goal like he was shot out of a cannon. Brunner, the non-rookie rookie, immediately fed it up to Franzen. Shane O'Brien made a diving attempt to stop the pass and I believe he might have made some contact, but the puck still went to Franzen's stick. On the other side, Eilliott took way too long to make his break and had absolutely no chance to catch Franzen on the breakaway. Franzen raced in and beat Giguere with a nasty shot to give the Wings a 1-0 lead.
The Avs got a chance to tie it five minutes later when Pavel Datsyuk was called for a horse-collar tackle on Paul Stastny. After the failed 5-forward experiment on Sunday, Joe Sacco went with 4 forwards this time, alternating Elliott and Barrie on the point. They might as well have used Laurel, Hardy and the Three Stooges because that at least would have been amusing to watch. The Avs managed one shot - essentially a dump in by Stastny to get a frozen puck.
And, not long after that opportunity was squandered, the Wings caught a big break that ultimately was the decider. Nick Kronwall took a hard shot from the point that was wide of the net. Giguere put his pad on the ice to be ready for the rebound, and ended up kicking the returning puck right into the net. Tough break for Giguere, who was otherwise outstanding, and a tough break for the Avs who were now down 2-0 despite playing pretty evenly with Detroit.
The 3rd period started off poorly. Just a few moments after Howard stoned John Mitchell all alone in front of the net, P.A. Parenteau got called for interference to give Detroit their first PP (at least, we believe so - Altitude could not be bothered to show the penalty at all). And, since this is the Avalanche, not long after that Chuck Kobasew got nabbed for boarding to put Detroit on a 5 on 3. Seriously, is there a record for the most 5 on 3 opportunities given up in a season, because it feels like the Avalanche should be contending for that? They've only given up 3 5 on 3 goals and were superb killing the penalty tonight, but I, for one, would really enjoy not seeing another 5 on 3 against us for a long, long time.
After killing off the penalties, the Avalanche had some chances to cut the deficit. Paul Stastny fed Parenteau with a gorgeous pass in a play that was very similar to the Franzen goal, but Parenteau couldn't top Jimmy. Stastny later did the same for Landeskog, but Landy couldn't quite reel in the puck, after which Mike Chambers immediately called for Stastny to be traded.
Paul Stastny broke up the shutout bid with 90 seconds to go and Giguere pulled for the extra man. And they came super close to tying it, with Sacco running 6 forwards at the end of the game, but Howard held on to win the game (afterward, he was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy).
Not really much else to say about it. The Avalanche played well on both sides of the ice but that one dumb-luck goal by Kronwall was the ultimate difference. You don't get any points for losing by bad luck, though. As Kurtis would say, these. are. the. breaks.
MHH Stick Taps
- Paul Stastny. Had a goal and some gorgeous passes that hopefully all the scouts saw
- J.S. Giguere. Excellent game for anyone, amazing considering how he spent his last week.
- Aaron Palushaj. 5 hits and they were all big ones. And he took a pounding late on a borderline play by Jordin Tootoo but didn't miss a shift.
- McGinn, Duchene, Parenteau. Not a great night, but not a bad one either
- Landeskog, Stastny, Jones. This line has really been stepping up lately
- Mitchell, O'Reilly, Palushaj. I think now that O'Reilly is back, the loss of Downie looms larger.
- McLeod, Olver, Kobasew. Very little ice time, although they had some good shifts early
- Hejda, Barrie
- Hunwick, O'Byrne
- O'Brien, Elliott
I like the play of all three pairings. I think this was a much better team defensively without Greg Zanon (healthy scratch). Other scratches were Milan Hejduk (banged up, could have played, more a maintenance day) and Patrick Bordeleau (first scratch of the year for him)
- Tyson Barrie led all players tonight with 22:31 of ice time
- The Avs as a team were credited with zero takeaways
- The seismic reading at about 8:05 wasn't an earthquake, but Jamie McGinn falling hard to the ice in front of the bench
The Avalanche will be in Chicago tomorrow and they will end this no regulation loss nonsense.