For the 2nd straight game (and the countless time this season), Colorado lost a game they played well enough to win. With just 30 games left, Colorado is 8 points out of the final playoff spot. They are playing well...but not getting points on a consistent basis. Without a significant winning streak, the Avalanche are on their way to missing the playoffs for the first time since arriving in Denver.
Edmonton started the game well, but couldn't convert on a couple of early chances. And, at 12:49, the Avs scored first with the 4th line connecting on a goal (Richardson, from Guite and Rycroft). That line played well all night, and was most important in the 1st period as the other lines were slow to get rolling. That was all the scoring in the 1st, but not all the excitement. Midway through the period, Ian Laperriere (who else?) leveled Ladislav Smid with a hard, clean check. Oiler D Matt Greene took exception and immediately went after Laperriere, drawing a 2 minute instigator penalty (not that Colorado could convert - they were 0-5 on the PP in the game). Later, as time in the period was expiring, some meathead from the Oilers named Zachery Stortini decided it was his turn to take a crack at Lappy, but Laperriere wouldn't take the bait. When that didn't work, he went after Tyler Arnason (hint: don't hold your breath, goonface). Ultimately, the Avs got a powerplay out of the fiasco, but, again, could not convert on Edmonton's lack of composure. I get the feeling Oiler coach Craig MacTavish talked some sense into his team during the intermission, as they seemed to abandoned most of the cheap crap after that (and the Stortini moron played just one more shift the rest of the game).
In the 2nd period, after killing off the Smid penalty to start things off, the Oilers took all the momentum, taking the first 6 shots of the period. At one point, Edmonton was outshooting the Avs 17-6 and really seemed like they were ready to bust out in a big way. When Ales Hemsky scored on a PP at the 12:10 (thanks to a dumb crosscheck penalty by Ossi Vaananen...or "Varnanen" according to the CBC text writers), Colorado looked like they were in trouble despite the game being tied 1-1. To their credit, they bounced back, and finally started getting some pressure on G Dwayne Roloson in the 2nd half of the 2nd period. In fact, after the 17-6 start, Colorado outshot the Oilers 32-9 the rest of the way.
That means they won easily, right? Nah. The Avs simply could not get the puck past Roloson. They played great, but Roloson kept his team in the game. Even though the Oilers played terribly in the 3rd, it was still a 1-1 game when Ryan Smyth deflected a Matt Greene shot from the point to take the lead. The Avs barely had time to recover from that when Shawn Horcoff put one past Budaj just 30 seconds later. In half a minute, the Avs had gone from pressing for the winning goal to the wrong side of a two-goal deficit. And, much like the last game, any chance of a Colorado comeback was killed by two late, dumb penalties (folks, it's Jason Smith on the potential breakaway. LET HIM GO). Colorado finally got one past Roloson at the 19:29 mark, but it was too late - Edmonton had the victory and the much needed two points.
Same lineup / line combo for the 3rd straight game. F Pierre Turgeon has now been a scratch for 7 straight games.
C Sakic, LW Wolski, RW Brunette: 13:27 ATOI (EV), 1 pt (EV), 12 shots, -1
C Stastny, LW Svatos, RW Hejduk: 10:24 ATOI (EV), 1 pt (EV), 10 shots, +2
C Arnason, LW McLean, RW Laperriere: 8:53 ATOI (EV), 1 pt (EV), 3 shots, +1
C Guite, LW Richardson, RW Rycroft: 7:39 ATOI (EV), 3 pts (EV), 6 shots, E
D Clark & D Skrastins: 15:38 ATOI (EV), 0 pts (EV), 2 shots, -4
D Klee & D Vaananen: 11:23 ATOI (EV), 0 pts (EV), 4 shots, E
D Leopold & D Sauer: 12:23 ATOI (EV), 0 pts (EV), 2 shots, +3
- If you had Mark Rycroft in the fight pool, you were a winner last night. Rycroft became the first Av besides Laperriere to get a fighting major this year (McCormick did have a tussle earlier on, but landed just a roughing minor for it). Rycroft took on Ladislav Smid midway through the 2nd. It wasn't the most entertaining as far as hockey fights go, but it was nice to see someone other than Laperriere step up. I believe it was the first NHL fighting major for both players.
- If anyone finds Tyler Arnason, can you please call the Colorado Avalanche? He is missing, and they desperately need him to return.