Tonight was Military Appreciation Night at the Pepsi Center. The Avs donned camo jerseys during warmups, and before puck drop, there was a pretty sweet ceremony honoring the various branches of the US military. This seems like a good time to say thank you to all current personnel and veterans who might be stopping by this post tonight. We really do appreciate what you do for us. Let's hope that the Avs can get a win for you guys tonight.
The Stastny line picked up where they left off last game, cycling the puck very well and allowing Barrie to pinch in and ring a shot off the iron just over a minute in. Just a few minutes later, JT Brown lead a 2 on 1, forcing Varly to come up with a big save. Duchene's line started feeling a little feeling left out, so after a great passing play, O'Reilly forced a great save from Bishop, then did it again soon after. Both of our top lines looked sharp tonight, and so did the goalies. Gudas and Namestnikov also had a great plays in front of Varly, and Duchene had a clean breakaway on Bishop. The pace was very fast and the teams traded chances, but nothing got past the netminders.
That all changed with with 3:09 left. Tom Pyatt stole the puck in the neutral zone, then had a little give and go with Teddy Purcell that ended with the puck going shortside topshelf. Varly might want that one back, but it was a pretty wicked shot. 1-0 Tampa.
Clearly, the Avs didn't like being down much, because 30 seconds later, MacKinnon stole the puck along the boards in the Tampa zone. Stastny found a pinching Barrie, who just walked down and stuck it behind Bishop like it was no big deal. Haynes then proceeded to compare Barrie's post-goal flying faceplant to Bobby Orr. Uh... sure. 1-1 All.
They weren't done yet. I think the new slapfight might be between the Duchene and Stastny lines because 41 seconds later, Duchene attempted a pass to O'Reilly that was blocked. Luckily, Holden was there and pinballed it back in O'Reilly's direction. That's all Radar needed to recover it and snipe it gloveside. 2-1 Avs!
The first was marked by a very fast pace with quite a few odd-man rushes. Both teams really like to GO! There was some physical play, especially from McLeod, but it was mostly about speed. Since Tampa is coming off a back-to-back, this will probably benefit the Avs by the end of the game. The home team also got a standing ovation after the first, so yeah, I'd say it was a pretty good period.
The start of the 2nd was all Avs. The Duchene line in particular was buzzing, but Tampa really struggled to gain any possession. The Avs had been behind in shots heading into this period, but not any more. An offsides allowed Tampa a chance to regroup and get a shot, but the Avs regained control quickly.
Unfortunately, the Avs on-ice dominance was wasted with 13:20 left. A sneaky shot from Nate Thompson found a way between Varly and the post. 2-2 All.
Apart from a weird play where the puck bounced off the end boards and right in front of Varly, the play was very back and forth. MacKinnon had a shot that was tipped by Landeskog, but no go. EJ and O'Reilly also had a good defensive play to clear the slot and the zone as Tampa began to gain more control.
Tampa got it back to their zone on the next shift, and at 6:13 of the second, the first penalty of the game was called against Duchene. Fortunately, Tampa struggled to gain any control due to a very aggressive Avalanche kill. The two minutes expired with zero shots.
With 2:23 remaining, Nate Guenin and Tyson Barrie both tried to block a long pass through the neutral zone. Guenin ended up checking Barrie, and both struggled to recover as the puck bounced to Nate Thompson. After an initial save, Thompson was able to pick up his rebound and tap it past Varly. 3-2 Tampa.
About a minute later, Valdislav Namestnikov decided to sit on Varly. You can't do that. We had some good chances, especially one at the buzzer by MacKinnon, but unfortunately, nothing stuck. The Avs will start the third with :31 left on the man advantage.
The Avs are actually playing really well - probably better than the score indicates. These two teams are just very, very similar and very, very close in shots, Corsi, Fenwick, and score. Hopefully the Avs come out in the 3rd as gang-busters as they did the 2nd and find a way to beat Bishop. Also, if someone could pick up Thompson as he comes down the nearside boards, that'd be dandy too.
Good chance by Holden in the final ticks of the power play, but Tampa managed to kill it off. MacKinnon had a breakaway about 2 mintues later, but Bishop was up to the task. St. Louis returned the favor on Varly seconds later.
At 3:34, Sami Salo hooked O'Reilly's hands on a breakaway. Back to the power play! There were a few good shots early on - Barrie, MacKinnon, Duchene, and Parenteau all had chances, but it was a glorious tick-tack-toe pass from Duchene and O'Reilly to Holden that tied the game. Such a beautiful backdoor play, and Altitude said that Holden had been working for about 10-15 minutes a few days ago with Adam Foote on this exactly play. Thanks, Footer! 3-3 All!
After a scary sequence in front of the net by the Lightning, Duchene stole the puck and combined with O'Reilly to make a play happen out of nowhere. Hedman hooked Radar and headed to the box. Unfortunately, this attempt wasn't as successful as the last, and the Lightning managed to kill it off.
PUCK OVER GLASS, REF KISS MY A A A... Sing it with me, Killorn!
Anyway, the "Let's Go Avalanche" cheer didn't help much. The two minutes of free man advantage expired due to a very good penalty kill on Tampa's part. I hope we don't look back at this as a major missed opportunity at the end of the game.
Then... ERIK JOHNSON!!!! Matt Carle sent a crazy pass that EJ easily picked off and followed up with a nice little set of stickhandling moves and a sweet shot. Bishop did not look pleased. 4-3 Avs
With 3:06 left in the game, Hejda tripped St. Louis. The Bolts went to the man advantage with one of the Avs' best PKers in the box. Drama! A great clearing pass and a well-timed hit by Mitchell killed the penalty for the Avs. Bishop came out of the net for the last 20 seconds, but the Avs didn't let them score.
Right after the PK expired, Holden followed it up with a hail-mary empty netter with :53.1 left in the game. Talbot got the assist. 5-3 Avs! Then more empty netting occurred! MacKinnon handed off the puck to Stastny, who put it in with 6 seconds left. More karma for the kiddo, and more points for the Avs! 6-3 Avs is your final score.
MHH Three Stars
1. Ryan O`Reilly - 1G / 1A, looked incredible all game.
2. Nick Holden - 2G
3. Matt Duchene - 2A, the chemistry he's developing with O'Reilly is just getting silly.
- Barrie and EJ - defenseman goalzing! Yay!
- Nathan MacKinnon - 2A, a wicked rookie point streak, and some good EN karma
- Paul Stastny - 1G / 1A, played a very good game
Landeskog - Stastny - MacKinnon
McGinn - Mitchell - Talbot
McLeod - Cliche - Bordeleau
Hejda - Johnson
Guinen - Barrie
Holden - Sarich
- The pace of this game was very fast. Both teams traded chances and really responded well to the wide-open play.
- Two empty net goals at the end made this score seem much more lopsided than it actually was. Look at this chart. This was a close game.
- Duchene and O'Reilly are really developing some good chemistry together.
- The Avs had 4 goals from defenseman tonight. They had 1 more than that in all of last season.
- Varlamov just became the 5th goalie in Avalanche history to hit the 30 win mark.