All twenty minutes expired in the first period without a goal or penalty to show for it. There were, however, some serious scoring opportunities. This was a fast-paced, hard-working first with aggressive play going back and forth, end to end, and some dangerous chances by both teams. Stellar goaltending was on display as both JS Giguere and Sergei Bobrovsky were forced to make some awesome saves, but don't discount the fantastic play by all lines in both sweaters. Both teams excelled at creating those chances, as well as thwarting them. If asked, there's no way I could pick any stars during that period.
Side note: I'm not sure if it was the emptiness of the arena or that the teams were talking to each other more than usual, but there was so much chatter. It was fantastic. Oh, and who the hell is this Avalanche team? Yeah, yeah, I know it's Columbus, but wow. Hungry hungry hippos out there, and I don't just mean Fatty McGuinn.
The second period started exactly where the first left off, feeling more and more like a playoff game. Moreover, I haven't seen the Pepsi Center ice this fast in quite a while. The Avs took advantage of it for the first ten minutes, interrupting outlet moves by the Blue Jackets, quickly turning the play back the other direction, and dominating like bosses. One of the best chances up to this point was generated by John Mitchell who came screaming up the left side, going hard to the net. Shot, rebounds, pucks bouncing over sticks, and a stop by Bobrovsky kept the score at zip all.
Almost halfway through the frame, the Blue Jackets got their best chance as Marian Gaborik was absolutely robbed by Jiggy. The play came right back into Columbus's zone, where the boys kept the BJs scrambling. Then, with Cody McLeod crashing the net, Ryan O'Reilly sent a pass from the boards to Gabriel Landeskog, who was waiting at the top of the circle. Landy sent the pass right to McLeod. A nice little tip in, and the Avs went up 1-0 with 9 minutes left in the first. Hard-working goal, well-deserved for that line.
Columbus got control and moved the puck into the Avs zone. A dump-in hit the ref, and the puck went skidding right into the slot. Jiggy saw it, but the defensemen were looking the other way. Mark Letestu hit the back of the net to tie the game at one.
Shortly thereafter, Brad Malone and James Wisniewski dropped the gloves for an energetic brawl after Wisniewski took exception to a hit by the young forward. Fists flew, some connected, but the bout ended quickly.
The goal gave the Blue Jackets some life, and momentum tilted in their favor. Thanks to some heads up play by Giguere (who was looking more like that guy who played for the Ducks than the one that is facing retirement in a few years), the score remained 1-1.
The first minor penalty went against Columbus as Gaborik came up behind Matt Hunwick and tried to lift his stick; unfortunately for Marian, his stick hit Hunny Bunny in the face instead, drawing blood. Avs went on a four-minute power play.
The first minute passed without the Avs even being able to clear the zone. As the second minute started, Colorado took control of the play and created a few scoring opportunities while keeping the puck in the Columbus zone for over a minute. A few clears and more solid work within the offensive zone created an impressive power play for the burgundy and blue, despite coming up empty. The period wound down, the scoreboard still knotted up at one.
Side note: where the fuck did those Barrie Bombs come from?
As the third began, the Avs led the Blue Jackets with shots on net at 20 to 19, scoring chances at 9 to 6, and hits at 14 to 11. Columbus was blowing our boys away on face offs, though, at 24 to 13.
Columbus went up 2-1 with just over two having ticked away on the clock. Some hard work by the Blue Jackets ended up with Blake Comeau slipping one past Jiggy. Again the bad guys drew some energy from the goal and forced the Avs back on their heels.
Three minutes later, another Avalanche bomb came from the blueline, this time off O'Reilly's stick. The rebound bounced towards the boards to the left of Bobrovsky, where Barrie chased it down at the hashtags. The d-man sent the puck on net at a sharp angle, and McLeod got his second of the night, hitting twine on a redirection.
The ref again did his best to affect the play as, for the fourth time tonight, got in the players' way along the boards.
At 7:35 left in the period, Greg Zanon dropped to the ice to block a Brandon Dubinsky slap shot from the slot, but it hit him hard on the arm. He didn't even hesitate, skating immediately to the Avs locker room. Fortunately, he came right back out, not missing a shift. Respect the beard.
Play evened out again for the remainder of the period until Matt Duchene and PA Parenteau got a two-on-one chance. The pass just slipped by Dutchy, unfortunately. Not too long afterward, another high stick by the BJs put the Avs back on the power play with 2:26 left in the third. This time it was Nikita Nikitin who nailed Jaime McGinn in the face. The Avs moved the puck well, when a pass was sent up to Elliott at the blueline. With McGinn taking on two guys in the crease to screen Bobrovsky, the defenseman sent a wrister home. Avs pull ahead 3-2.
The Blue Jackets came right back down the ice, with Barrie missing a puck coming into the D zone. RJ Umberger gobbled it up and sent the bouncing puck five hole past Jiggy to tie it up at 3 again.
The Avs took a minor penalty with just over one minute remaining in the third: O'Brien for elbowing. The clock wound down to send the game into overtime, where the Blue Jackets skated four-on-three for just over a minute.
As the power play hit the last few seconds for the Blue Jackets, Landy hustled his ass to get a huge breakaway. Bobrovsky robbed him with a flashing glove. That killed off the rest of the penalty, and the Avs took that energy to the Blue Jackets, keeping the puck in their zone for a full 45 seconds. The hard work generated three point blank chances, but that Columbus goaltender continued to show why he's a Vezina candidate right now.
A tangle at the blueline led to a two-on-one for the Blue Jackets. Duchene hustled back to help out Zanon, but Nick Foligno let fly a sweet shot to take the game in OT.
Great showing by both clubs. Lots of hard hits, exciting scoring chances, and impressive defense. I just wish the refs could figure out a way to not interfere with the play.
Cheryl's Three Avalanche Stars:
1. Cody McLeod
2. JS Giguere
3. Ryan O'Reilly