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Game 10: Avalanche 3, Flames 2 (OT)

photo courtesy of Jeff McIntosh/AP

From the AP game recap:

"We feel very fortunate to get the two points and that's what great goaltending will do for you," Sakic said. "All the credit goes to Theo for keeping us in there and giving us a chance."

I know I probably come across as someone who dislikes Jose Theodore, or at least wants him to do badly.  But don't get me wrong, I want---very badly---for him to be a world-class, elite goaltender.  I want him to win games.  I get frustrated and confused because he so often struggles and fails to do so.

Last night against the Flames, he didn't struggle too much at all.  Theo made 39 saves on 41 shots and salvaged what should have been a disastrous loss for the Avalanche and their "no, please, take a shot on us" defense.  Instead, Colorado dragged the game to overtime and managed to win in the end---again.  This is the second game the against the Avs where the Flame-Outs have blown a sure-win situation.

Scoring began with a Joe Sakic snap shot directly in front of the Calgary net from a sweet behind-the-goal feed from Wojtek Wolski, who continues to see the ice very well.  The second assist went to linemate Andrew Brunette, which is his 500th career point.  

Unfortunately, about eight minutes later, Alex Tanguay (former Av) broke free of the defense and scored with a sweet wrister that threaded the space between Theodore's body and arm to tie it up.  For almost the entire rest of the game, the momentum belonged exclusively to the Flames.  In the first period, the Avs were out-shot 16-8.  In the second, it was 11-5.  In the third, it was 14-8, and 41-22 overall.

With the Avalanche defense continuing to play like they'd been paid off by somebody, the Flames pressed hard on every shift, dominating the zone and getting a ton of scoring chances.  One of those paid off early in the second period, when Matthew Lombardi got it past Theo to take the lead.  That would be the final Flames goal, however.

Theodore didn't allow another goal the rest of the game, it's true, but it must be said that he got lucky on a TON of shots---many of which were wide or deflected---and was behind the play or out of position on a pretty regular basis.  Not that he didn't have genius moments, but he showed a lot of weakness too.  He's far less capable positionally than Budaj.  But I digress.

He got super lucky when Mick MaGoo blew the whistle despite Theo not having control of the puck through the five hole---the puck crossed the line, but just after the whistle.  Pure luck.

The Flames onslaught of total ice control continued until late in the third period, when Marek Svatos shoveled some garbage, scoring off a rebound directly in front of Kipper to score the tying goal.  You'd think the kid won the Stanley Cup by the look on his face---not that I blame him.  

So, despite their very best efforts, the Avalanche managed to drag the game to overtime.

Overtime didn't last long, with Ryan Smyth scoring a great one-timer off a 2-on-1 feed from Joe Sakic.  The blame on that one rests solely on the shoulders of Dion Phaneuf, who was caught out of position and out of the play.  Phaneuf was generally annoying all night, talking a ton of smack to Ryan Smyth but never doing anything about it.  At first I wanted Lappy or Parker to take him on, but considering the fact that the Avalanche won the game in the end by making Phaneuf look stupid, I'll take that instead.  He may be a good defenseman, Flames fans, but Dion Phaneuf is a tool and a whiner.

And speaking of whiners, Phaneuf must hang out with the Flames' announcers, because all they did all night was gripe and complain about Smyth, uncalled penalties they thought were being committed all over the place, and generally everything else when it didn't go the Flame-Outs' way.  It got old really quick.

Anyway, the Avalanche penalty kill was again very, very good, and shut down two separate 5-on-3 chances by the Flames.  Why the defense is so good when down a man or two, but so bad at full strength I may never understand.  The Avalanche power play was again very, very bad, with the exception of Svatos' last-second goal that technically counted as a PP score.  Wolski, Svatos and Arnason again had good games, and again Paul Stastny vanished mysteriously.  What happened to him?  He's killing my fantasy team.

There were three milestones reached in the game.  Joe Sakic's assist on the overtime game-winner is his 1600th career point.  As I already mentioned, Andrew Brunette now has a slightly more modest 500 career points, and the win was Coach Joel Quenneville's 400th.  

The Avalanche has finished a four-game road trip (2-2, not bad) and play Minnesota at home on Sunday.  The Wild are still playing very well, but the Avs will look to extend their at-home winning streak to 5 games.  Hopefully Milan Hejduk will be back on the ice by then.  Son of Stastny needs him!

Stars of the Game:

  1. Matthew Lombardi (1g, 0a)
  1. Alex Tanguay (1g, 0a)
  1. Joe Sakic (1g, 1a)

(Theo deserved to be a Star, he had a save percentage of .951 and stopped 39 shots, saving the game for the Avs.)