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Game 28: Avalanche 2, Flyers 1

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photo courtesy of David Zalubowski/AP

It's hard to understand this year's version of the Colorado Avalanche.  One game, they look like a Junior C team, skating around lost like little kids who don't really know how to play the game.  The next game, they play superbly at all ends of the ice like a truly great NHL squad.  Luckily, in the 2-1 win over the Flyers last night, the Avalanche looked like the latter.

The game began in extremely boring fashion, with neither team looking especially interested in playing hockey.  There was little action and few scoring chances.  It wasn't until nearly fifteen minutes into the first period that the home team started to pick up the pace, and by the end they were controlling the ice and putting lots of shots on Flyers goalie Marty Biron (who for some reason I kept calling "Baron" last night in the game thread.  My bad).

In the second period, the Avs kept up the pressure.  Finally, after failing to score on two good power play chances, Colorado finally put the biscuit in the basket.  Jaroslav Hlinka skated in fast to Biron's right and put a fantastic wrist shot top shelf before falling down and sliding into the end boards, Alex Tanguay Game 7 2001 style.  Very nice.

The initial one-goal lead wouldn't hold, though, because Daniel Briere (who Mike Haynes referred to as "Danielle" at least twice) scored on a Flyers power play at 17:55, ruining Jose Theodore's chance for a shutout.

Theo's chance for the win wasn't ruined, though, because just before the end of the second period, Milan Hejduk actually scored a goal on an Avalanche power play.  I know, that's messed up!  The assists went to Ryan Smyth and Paul Stastny.  With just three seconds left in the frame, the timing was perfect to ruin the Flyers locker room morale.  

Philadelphia didn't exactly turn on the pressure in the third period, managing just seven shots (most of them in the last five minutes), all of which Theodore stopped easily.  Time ran out and the Avalanche emerged triumphant against a very, very good Eastern Conference team.

The three stars of the game weren't exactly tough for Mike Haynes to choose, with Hlinka, Hejduk and Theodore getting the nods.  Theo deserved every bit of the first star, considering he had 28 saves on 29 shots for a .966 save percentage.  That's good stuff.

I don't want to get too excited, because the Avs have been going win-loss-win-loss all season, but it would be nice if they could string together a winning streak of some sort over the next few games.  It might be tough, though, because their next four games are against St. Louis, Columbus and Nashville (twice), and the Central Division has been extremely competitive this season.

The Blues face the Avs on Sunday night at the Pepsi Center.

Stars of the Game:

  1. Jose Theodore (28sv, .966)
  1. Jaroslav Hlinka (1g, 0a)
  1. Milan Hejduk (1g, 0a)