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Game Notes: Game 8, Avalanche at Wild

1st Period

20:00 Dan Terhaar and Mike Greenlay are calling the game tonight. I don't have the foggiest idea who either is. Meanwhile, the cameras catch Pavol Demitra kissing the blade of his stick before the opening faceoff. That's just plain bizarre, Pavol.

19:58 Budaj v Backstrom is the matchup tonight

19:44 The 8 games against the Wild will be the only times this year that I'll miss Ossi Vaananen. The escalating war between Vaananen and the Wild's Stephane Veilleux was kind of entertaining…even if I'm the only person in the world aware of it.

<!--more-->18:26 Jeff Finger is in the game, which is a nice thing to see.

17:59 One of the guys I want to watch tonight is Jaroslav Hlinka, who seems to be out on the 3rd line with Arnason and Laperriere. Right here, he breaks up a pass in the neutral zone.

17:32 Scott Parker is also in the lineup tonight. Sadly, Derek Boogaard is not.

17:00 Clark is out with Leopold. Did Joel Quenneville read my recap yesterday where I suggested breaking up Hannan and Clark? If he did, he surely thinks I'm a dick.
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16:16 Jeff Finger lets Veilleux know that he'll be taking over for Vaananen (he sends Veilleux to the ice with a hit from behind that probably should have been a boarding call).

15:58 Yep, Hannan is out with Kurt Sauer, a pairing I think might work very well.

14:46 Brett Clark gives me a heart attack by deflecting a centering pass just inches over Peter Budaj (and, thankfully, the net)

14:02 Slashing call on Brent Burns. Avs go on the first PP of the night.

12:26 Arnason fires a wicked shot at Backstrom. Good save. The Avs get several good chances, but no goal.

11:22 Another guy I'm watching is former Wild Wyatt Smith, playing on the 4th line with Guite and Parker (or whoever is double-shifting for Parker). On this play, the Wild break out down the ice, and Smith is back in position – actually right in line with the Avs blueliners. That commitment to D is nice…but then when he gets to a loose puck he is unable to either clear it or get it to a teammate to help.

10:28 Another PP, Mark Parrish for hooking. The Avs have just finished shifts by the 3rd and 4th line, so the PP units should be nice and rested here.

8:56 Arnason hooks Martin Skoula to end the PP. I think that's Arnason's first penalty of the year. Hell, it's probably the first time he's touched an opposing player this season.

7:26 Wyatt Smith on the PK breaks up a pass, but can't quite get control to push the puck out of the zone. Pavol "Stick Lover" Demitra gets the puck back.

7:03 Mad scramble in front. Budaj with a big save but he loses the rebound. It hangs dangerously in the crease for a while before eventually getting cleared

6:53 The clear goes right to Arnason coming out of the box. He breaks in alone on Backstrom, but doesn't get much on the shot.

3:52 Brent Burns interferes with Jordan Leopold in the Colorado zone. Burns, you might recall, laid a solid check on Joe Sakic last year. This was a good check too, but it wasn't legal. Burns apparently had 5 minor penalties in an earlier game this year. Wow.

1:53 Backstrom pokes angrily at Ryan Smyth hanging out in the crease. Minnesota kills another penalty.

:18 Penalty number 4. Rolston for a slash on Leopold.

2nd Period

20:00 Colorado outshot the Wild 13-7 (mostly thanks to all the powerplays – 10 of the shots came on the PP). They also won 8 of 10 faceoffs. A strong first period for the Avs all the way around.

19:00 Liles does a good job breaking up a Demitra play. Liles has been solid defensively this year.

17:01 Smith steals the puck in the Wild's zone and gets a shot off on Backstrom.

16:38 Liles makes another good defensive play, this time breaking up a pass in the neutral zone.

16:08 One area he still struggles in – handling the puck with pressure in his own zone. He loses the puck here on just that sort of play.

15:30 Penalty on Colorado – Leopold (who has had a much better game than he did on Friday).

15:07 Clark, without a stick, makes a sliding block on a centering pass. Not long after, Budaj flashes some good leather on a glove save on a Kurt Foster bomb.

14:40 Minnesota scores. 1-0. Sauer and Hannan both chase down the puck in the corner – it should have been Hannan's man. This frees up Sauer's guy, Mark Parrish, who is moving toward the Colorado net. Laperriere is in position to cover Parrish, but moves back to the high side, leaving Parrish all one. Demitra gets the puck in the corner, feeds to Gaborik on the side boards, who finds Parrish still with no one on him. Not much Budaj could do to stop that with no defensive help. Bad miscue by Sauer and especially Lappy on this kill.

14:02 Leopold trips James Shepherd on the way to the net. It probably saves the 1-goal deficit – Shepherd had a great scoring chance.

13:31 Hlinka with a hook on Demitra at center ice. Terrible penalty to take. 5 on 3 for 1:30.

12:38 Rolston scores. It was just a matter of time – Minnesota was just teeing up from the point on Budaj. Foster and Rolston had numerous chances, and one finally got through.

11:43 How's this for streakiness: The Avs scored the last 4 goals against Columbus. Then the Flames scored 4 in a row on Colorado. The Avs followed that with 4 straight. Then Chicago had 3 straight, followed by the Avs scoring 3 straight. Now Chicago and the Wild have combined to score 4 straight on the Avs. By rights, the Avs should score the next 4 goals.

9:50 Koivu called for hooking. Avs need to, at the very least, get some momentum back here.

8:22 Pretty goal from Tyler Arnason. Sakic shoots it from the point. There's a scramble for the rebound in front of Backstrom. Arnason gets to it first, and spins around firing blindly at the net…which turns out to be open. 2-1 Minnesota. Arnason matches his 1 PP goal output from last season.

7:50 Guite, Smith and Lappy have a shift with a lot of sustained pressure, helping to swing that momentum pendulum a bit more towards the Colorado direction.

6:18 2-2! Wolski takes it in down the left wing and shoots it to the net towards Kurt Sauer (yes, really) rushing to the net. Sauer tips it. Backstrom makes the save. Sauer collects the rebound and centers it to the far side to a waiting Andrew Brunette. I can't say enough good things about Wolski this year.

5:52 The Avs have a chance to take the lead, but can't quite get it past a sprawling Backstrom

5:45 Wolski just misses another one

3:57 Budaj with a big save on Rolston. The game has really picked up in pace.

2:27 Hlinka does a good job moving into the zone alone against 3 Wild players. Although he can't get in on net, he's able to hold up and maintain possession long enough feed Stastny catching up a bit later.

1:53 I spoke to soon when I said Leopold was having a better game. At the blueline, he folds to pressure from Radavoyovich (I'm sure I butchered that one) and loses the puck. Leo's only play is to haul down his man – his 3rd penalty of the night. Meanwhile, they show a replay of what appears to be a Gaborik interference hit against Stastny that wasn't called.

1:21 Parrish takes a puck to the face.

:01 Geez. The Avs have the penalty mostly killed off, but they shouldn’t really get credit; the Avs PK spent the entire time standing around watching the Wild pass it around. If not for some lucky breaks, the Wild would have scored here.

3rd Period

20:00 Heh – so much for the faceoffs. After a big advantage in the first, the Avs now have just 14 of 34 won. If these numbers are right, that means they were 6 of 24 in the 2nd period: 25%.

17:45 I've heard Bowie over the PA, ELO over the PA and the Beatles over the PA. Is there a British holiday today? Blood Pudding Day, maybe?

17:40 Foster knocks over Hlinka…who falls into Radavoyovich…who falls over Parker. All 3 end up on the ice. Rather comically, I might add.

17:14 Schulz hits Sakic hard into the boards. He seems to get his hands up to the face of Sakic, and spends some extra time standing over a prone Sakic after the play.

16:13 The Cult continue British Music Awareness Night.

15:20 A good pace to the game now, and lots of chances each way. Both goalies are playing well.

13:55 Leopold is struggling. He just missed another penalty, getting his hands around somebody on the Wild, then he botched a couple of clearing chances.

11:34 Koivu gets a hooking penalty. Big PP chance for the Avs.

10:45 Budaj with a game-saving save. A fluky bounce breaks Demitra and Gaborik 2 on 1 with Brett Clark. Demitra feathers a pass over a sliding Clark, but Budaj robs Gaborik. Easily the save of the game.

9:30 PP is over.

8:50 Another Leopold defensive turnover.

8:32 This time, his pass makes it to the neutral zone before getting intercepted.

6:42 Another big Budaj save; this time he bails out some sloppy play from Finger and Liles.

5:32 Another Leopold fumble. This is kind of painful to watch.

5:24 It leads to a shot. Budaj makes a save, Leopold gets the rebound. His clearing attempt goes nowhere, and the Wild get the puck again.

5:17 Leopold AGAIN fails to get it out of the zone. Can someone else please start handling the puck back there?

5:05 HE DOES IT! He clears it out of the zone! He appeared to ice it, but no whistle.

4:21 Finger takes a puck off the skate, and skates off putting no pressure on his left foot. Eerily reminiscent of the Liles broken foot in this same building last year.

4:00 I know from my Tivo bar that this game isn’t going to OT. Win or lose, this is a solid effort from the Avs – it's been a very evenly fought game. I'm still pulling for win, of course.

3:23 Finger is back out there, skating rather gingerly, I might add.

3:04 Koivu breaks the tie. Veilleux gets a big hit on Clark, and Koivu intercepts his forwarding clear. Koivu skates in past Stastny and Clark and seems to be going behind the net, and breaks in front of the net at the last minute. Terrific effort from Koivu. Tough way to lose the game for the Avs.

2:40 Budaj makes a big save on Rolston to keep the Avs in it, although I know it isn't going to matter.

1:24 The 4th line is out there. I guess Quenneville knows it's over too.

0:00 It's over. I'm not thrilled with the outcome, but I am impressed with the effort.