I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but Colorado got its defensive act together really quickly. Despite the loss on Wednesday, the Avs' d-men shut down the Blue Jackets pretty thoroughly, and we're ultimately undone by poor goaltending. Last night, they showed what they're capable of when the a reliable netminder is in place. The Avalanche beat the Predators 2-1.
Though they allowed considerably more shots against Nashville than they did against Columbus, most of the d-men were solid. Scott Hannan saw more than 27 minutes of ice time and was overall very good. Brett Clark, after some weak play a few games ago, has seen a reduced number of shifts, but he seems to have collected himself as well. Even Jordan Leopold was back in action, and he showed little signs of rust, though he only played nine minutes, finishing +1. Generally speaking, the blueline has become much more solid as of late.
Speaking of solid, Peter Budaj shook off a three-game benching and performed extremely well, stopping 30 shots, winning a duel with Nashville goalie Chris Mason, who always plays well against Colorado. Mason also stopped 30 shots.
The Avalanche goals were scored by Ryan Smyth (from a feed by Jaroslav Hlinka, who's finally coming into his own) and the winner was a tip-in by a healthy-kneed Ian Laperriere, again off a feed from Hlinka. Cody McCormick, awarded the second assist on the play, scored his first point of the season.
The Avs play Nashville again on Saturday night, this time back in Denver. Can they get another winning streak going? Would that be too much to ask?
And in case nobody noticed, Colorado has moved into second place in an increasingly competitive Northwest Division, just two points behind first-place Vancouver but only three points ahead of last-place Edmonton. The Oilers have nearly fought back to .500, and beat Detroit last night in a shootout. What the hell?
Stars of the Game:
- Peter Budaj (30sv, .968)
- Ryan Smyth (1g, 0a)
- Chris Mason (30sv, .938)