Stefan Elliott flew out to Phoenix this morning, making it into the game ahead of the scratched vet Shane O'Brien. Unfortunately, Elliott's first shift went about as badly as could be expected. He and partner Jan Hejda were helpless against the Coyotes' Mikkel Boedker, who put the home team up by one before two minutes had expired. Honestly, Semyon Varlamov should have had that one. He watched the player, not the puck, and it cost him. This was the 27th of 38 games in which the Avs have given up the first goal. The Yotes continued with the pressure, exposing a tired Avalanche team early. The boys in white just couldn't seem to get any kind of rhythm going.
Even before half of the first had expired, coach Joe Sacco did some line juggling, switching centers in the second and third lines. You gotta wonder what Mr. Character thought about having Brad Malone and Patrick Bordeleau on his wings. To be fair, the way the line of David van der Gulik, Mark Olver and Aaron Palushaj played against Detroit, you could make an argument for them being higher on the pecking order than either Ryan O'Reilly's or John Mitchell's lines. Although they didn't have quite the danger to their play in tonight's first period as they did last night, the chemistry was clearly still there. Once again, Gabe Landeskog was utterly MIA. Gotta wonder if this is the result of a sophomore slump or lingering injury.
The Avs got the first power play of the night as Derek Morris was called for interference at 13:59 in the opening frame. The first minute was uneventful apart from an aggressive move from Matt Duchene to keep the play alive. The rest of the "power" play was pretty pathetic. McLeod got the only shot on net.
With 1:16 left in the first period, van der Gulik took an interference penalty, putting the Coyotes up a man. Unlike Colorado, Phoenix actually got some pressure going during their man advantage. They weren't able to convert before the buzzer for the first sounded, though.
Probably the best scoring chance of the period for the Avs, believe it or not, was by Bordy. That guy is due for a goal here pretty soon. If you can take a positive from those 20 minutes, it would be the continued physical play by the Avs. Of 35 hits in the period, Colorado had 21 of them.
Coming into the middle frame up 1-0, the Coyotes picked it up right where they left off as they worked the final 44 seconds of their power play. The Avalanche used some aggressive playmaking to kill it, however.
Unfortunately, just over a minute later, Olver put the Avs a man down again as he sat two for holding. He should feel shame as the Yotes quickly went up 2-0 off a bad line change by the Avs, which gave Phoenix a 2-on-0 breakaway. Martin Hanzal got the honors. The worst part of that scenario, though, was the fact that Erik Johnson slid into the boards, ramming his shoulder hard. He skated straight to bench and kept going to the locker room, holding his arm the entire time. On the replay, you can see that he put his arm out, trying to stop himself from crashing into the boards. Mistake.
The Avs got some life as McLeod tried to shove one home with just over four minutes gone. Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith got quite upset about it and yanked Cody's stick out of his hands, banged it on the ice, and tossed it into the corner. No call on that tantrum, just as there wasn't a call on the blatant trip on Palushaj in the crease before the whistle stopped play.
A failed clearing attempt, coupled with a wickedly angled shot by Boyd Gordon, allowed Phoenix to extend the lead to 3-0. He got the shot off from below the goal line and banked it off Varly's paddle. Can't really blame Varly for that, but it makes you miss those days when he's so tight on the post that a human hair couldn't pass through.
Some good news came shortly after the goal, however, as Johnson returned to the ice.
At about this time, Phoenix took complete control of the game, looking like they were playing an AHL team. Come to think of it, they kinda were. With 5:23 left, the Coyotes got their 4th of the night as a scrambling Avs left Shane Doan all alone in the crease.
How this team can go from the one that abused the Red Wings silly one night to the one that can't do shit like tonight I will never know.
Towards the end of the period, Doan went off for interference, giving the boys another power play. It went just as you thought it did: baaaaaad. There was an exciting moment as a breakaway against almost gave the Yotes their fifth of the night, but a nice pad save by Varly thwarted it.
The period wound down, leaving me with one thought as the teams went into second intermission: why the fuck did I offer to recap this game? Miserable experience. I think, if given the chance, I'd choose reality TV over this. Painful.
34 seconds into the third, Landeskog made an appearance: he tripped up Smith and got a goaltender interference penalty. Honestly, Smith could've stayed on his feet. But why be a grown up when you can flop around like a baby? Fortunately for the Avs, the Coyotes looked happy with a four-goal lead and didn't push the power play too much. Penalty killed easily.
At 3:59 into the third, Keith Yandle (still want him on this team!) stepped up on Olver as he was leaving the d-zone. New rules, Yandle baby, can't do that. Interference for two. Landy shot one off the crossbar, and the bouncing puck ended up right underneath Smith. Even the bounces won't throw the Avs a bone. That was the only chance the Avs generated on the PP op.
The best shift of the night thus far was a Bordy, Malone, Jamie McGinn, Tyson Barrie and Greg Zanon cycle that was hard-hitting and a wee-bit dangerous. Sadly, rubber never hit twine.
With 3:20 left in the game, Mitchell decided Colorado needed to go out on a whimper and took a high-sticking penalty. To their credit, the Avs didn't approach the kill any differently than they would have in the first. That strong play forced Boedkr to get his stick up in Hejda's face, negating the PP and giving us 4 on 4 for 41 seconds. Fun part of that minute was seeing Barrie and Elliott reunited. They didn't do much with it, though.
The Avs finished the game on the power play, but the puck never went into its home. Yotes blew out the Avs with a 4-goal shut out.
Anyone who watched that entire game