For the 4th time in the last 5 games involving the Avalanche, the team with the most shots has ended up on the losing end. Vancouver took a page out the Colorado playbook last night, making judicious use of cycling behind the net to keep the pressure on the Avs throughout the game. Vancouver had a ton of scoring chances, outshooting a tired-looking Colorado team by 9 shots in the 1st and 3rd periods (differential was a whopping 38-20 in the game). But Avs goalie Jose Theodore was on his game tonight; many of his 36 saves were spectacular and was the key to the Avs victory.
Vancouver started the scoring late in the first when Andrew Burrows slid a nice pass behind a sliding John-Michael Liles to feed a wide open Markus Naslund on the two-on-one break. Replays seemed to show pretty clearly that Burrows was breaking with the puck while the player he was replacing - Matt Cooke - was still on the ice, but that didn't stop CBC's Drew Remenda from having a small bit of Canadian homerism by complimenting the Canucks on a solid change. Colorado tied it early in the first when Brett Clark fired a blistering shot from the blueline that deflected off of Andrew Brunette in the crease. Roberto Luongo complained of contact, and, again, Remenda seemed up in arms as well over the lack of an interference call...until he saw a replay later that seemed to clear Brunette, forcing Remenda to despondently admit that it was a goal.
After one of the Wonder Twins scored on a powerplay, Paul Stastny tied the game at two midway through the 2nd. It wasn't a pretty goal - Stastny was the only Av around 4 white shirts trying to corrall the puck in front of Luongo, and he somehow slipped it home - but again even things up. That goal was 32:46 into the game, and represented just the 11th shot for Colorado. Without Theodore keeping things close, the game would have been over already. And when Brunette scored 3 minutes into the 3rd (on another nice pass from Brett Clark), Theodore seemed to bear down even harder, turning away all 14 shots he saw in the third period. Last night, at least, Jose Theodore did what he is being paid $5 million to do: he stole a game that Colorado had no business winning.
- Colorado has won both games against Vancouver 3-2. Both games have been on Saturday as the late game for Hockey Night in Canada. Their next meeting? November 25th, a Saturday game also broadcast on HNIC. Think these guys know that the rivalry doesn't quite have the same oomph with Todd Bertuzzi gone?
- George Parros made his second appearance for Colorado (Antti Laaksonen was scratched this time instead of Mark Rycroft). Of course, by appearance I mean 3:53 of 7 shifts. I really like Parros (my wife thought I was insane when I cheered when during the anthem they panned the bench and there was 6'5" Parros sandwiched between little Marek Svatos and Mark Rycroft). Unfortunately, he just looks to slow to be of much use to this team. Colorado has exactly one fight this year - Laperriere vs Barnaby in game one. And they have yet to have been involved in any especially physical games. Parros (along with Brad May, for that matter), just doesn't seem to have any role on this team.
- In the first Vancouver game, CBC's Kelly Hrudey called out Milan Hejduk for uninspired play (correctly, in my opinion). Since then, playing mostly on a line with Stastny and Woljtek Wolski, Hejduk has 12 points and is a +4 over 11 games. Hrudey, a classy guy, didn't hesitate to point out the improvement during the game.
- Look, I know that the HNIC crew is a little biased towards Canadian teams. Truth is, as a former resident of the Great White North, I kind of like the slanted view. But, Remenda took that too far last night. Besides the favoritism on the first two goals mentioned above, any time an Av was brought down via penalty or otherwise, that player was "selling it". He makes the Bruins homers look downright impartial.