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Game 23: Avalanche 4, Oilers 2

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photo courtesy of David Zalubowski/AP

The real Colorado Avalanche showed up last night at the Pepsi Center, instead of the group of impostors that had appeared in the previous five games or so, beating the Edmonton Oilers 4-2.

The Avs exploded out of the gate, with goals by Milan Hejduk and Brett Clark before five minutes of the first period had elapsed.  That onslaught continued for a while.  Colorado completely controlled the ice through 40 minutes, out-shooting Edmonton 36-9 and outscoring them 4-0 during that time.  The second pair of goals was scored by Joe Sakic (on the power play!!) and Wojtek Wolski.  

Unfortunately, even though the Avs continued to dominate the ice, the Oilers managed to score twice in the third period and at least kind of look like they were going to come back.  They didn't, but allowing two goals on just four shots in the third was not exactly icing on the Avalanche cake.

As far as Coach Q goes, I'm starting to think he reads this blog.  Last night he put Jaroslav Hlinka back on the second line with countryman Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny and sure enough, it was magical.  The line was responsible for both early goals and six total points.  Because Son Of Stastny is Peter Stastny's offspring, and the elder Stastny is from Czechoslovakia, the line combination of 17-26-23 will now forever be referred to as "The Czeching Line."  Please, hold your applause.

Wojtek Wolski and Joe Sakic also had really great games, with both showing hustle that had been lacking a bit for a couple of weeks.  Sakic especially showed the vision and skill he's known for---he didn't look 38 out there.

The Avalanche defense was very strong overall, with Kyle Cumiskey, Brett Clark and Jeff Finger standing out as the better players.  Scott Hannan wasn't too bad, but he was on the ice for another even strength opposition goal, which seems to be his trademark this year.  Oh well.

Peter Budaj got the win, but I have to admit that he didn't look very good in the final frame.  He allowed two goals on just four shots in that period, and only made eleven saves overall.  Granted, the second goal was a deflection off an excellent screen by Shawn Horcoff, and Boots had no chance at all despite his excellent positioning, but .846 is not a good save percentage no matter how many shots you face.  A win is a win, though, and I'm sure Boots will take it.

It was really great to see the Avalanche dominate and win a game again, but it was against the Oilers and it was at home.    The Avs now depart for a road trip through the Pacific Division, facing a resurgent San Jose Sharks team on Friday, followed by the not-so-resurgent LA Kings the next night.  Winning two on the road will no doubt go a long way to restoring the confidence of a team that has no excuse for losing.

Stars of the Game:

  1. Milan Hejduk (2g, 1a)
  1. Joe Sakic (1g, 1a)
  1. Brett Clark (1g, 0a)