And the hits just keep on coming. The Avalanche continue their recent trend of strong defensive hockey and drop the Flames 3 to 2. Colorado almost completely dominated Calgary in the last two periods, outshooting the Flames 31 to 10. Shift after shift, the Flames ran into 4 guys in burgondy at the blueline, resulting in either a turnover or an offside call.
Despite the win, the Avs are still 8 points back of the 8th-place Flames. Both teams have just 12 games remaining. It won't be easy, but it is possible - especially with 2 games left against Calgary. Colorado needs to be almost perfect the rest of the way. Can they sustain this high level of play? One very intriguing element is Karlis Skrastins. Colorado has been playing their best defensive hockey of the season...maybe their best since the lockout. Where does Karlis fit in when he comes back?
Highlights from the game
18:45 Colorado strikes right off the bat, with Andrew Brunette getting a shot on Miikka Kiprusoff at the side of the net. Kipper makes the stop, but Wojtek Wolski grabs the rebound and fires it in front to a wide-open Joe Sakic. Sakic was so open, Brunette had his stick in the air before Joe got the shot off. The goal was the 602nd of Joe's career, moving him past former teammate Jarri Kurri to 16th on the all-time list. Before the game, he was honored for #600 (scored recently in Calgary).
17:47 The theme to Superman plays on the PA. Or, as my wife calls it...that song about evolution where they break down walls. I really have no idea what is wrong with her - I just hope scientists can come up with a cure someday. And yes, I know that is completely meaningless to everyone.
16:53 Ken Klee gets a good shot on net. Arnason gets the rebound behind the goal line, and centers it past a sprawling Kipper. It's a carbon copy of the Sakic goal, except there's no one in front this time.
14:20 Brad Richardson and Alex Tanguay come together after the whistle, the first of a few minor scrums in the game.
13:54 Matthew Lombardi finds himself all alone to the left of Peter Budaj. He starts walking in with the puck, but Wolski pokes it away. 3 months ago, Wolski is nowhere near that play; he's waiting along the sideboards for an outlet pass.
9:59 Colorado could probably be up more than 1-0 now, but they seem to be killing too many scoring chances by overpassing.
7:14 Wolski gets called for interference after a hit on Stephane Yelle. I'm not big on second-guessing referees, but this one is 100% horse shit. Yes, after watching the replay 17 times it looks like Yelle missed the puck before Wolski hit him. So, from now on, we're going to make extra sure. In order for Wolksi to get a clean hit on, he first needs to stop, ask Yelle if he made contact, and then line him up for a big hit.
7:13 For the first time ever (I believe), Brett Clark is shown on the ice with his mouth guard in his mouth.
6:11 A controversial play. Calgary scores, but it is waved off. Tony Amonte takes a shot, it deflects high into the air, ultimately getting knocked down and into the net by Jeff Finger. But (and the Altitude guys missed this completely), the play was blown dead when the ref lost sight of the puck.
5:15 Roman Hamrlick rectifies the situation with a massive shot from the blueline that beats Peter Budaj. The goal actually goes to Jarome Iginla, who must have deflected the puck in front. I didn't see that, and thought this might get changed back to Hamrlick. No matter, the outcome is the same: score is tied 1-1.
4:36 Brett Clark gets a hooking penalty on Iginla.
4:15 The Flames try that Huselius backdoor pass that has been so effective against the Avs this year. I'm not sure I'd say the Avalanche were ready for it, but Kurt Sauer does get over and get his stick on the shot.
2:44 And the Flames take the league. Stephane Yelle puts pressure on Kurt Sauer as they race in on a dump in. Sauer makes a poor play, passing it to a Flame (Tanguay?) in front. Budaj makes the initial save, but the play continues, with Tanguay ending up with the puck and making a gorgeous pass to Yelle behind the net. Budaj has little chance on the play, and the Flames take a 2-1 lead.
14:41 Ken Klee and Ossi Vaananen have an absolute miserable time getting the puck out of their zone. There's not really much of a forecheck on them, they just both seem a bit confused as to what the other is doing. Odd.
14:20 Arnason gets a back hand shot that hits the post. After the puck gets frozen, everyone comes together again, with John-Michael Liles ultimately ending up under Tony Amonte. Nothing severe enough to draw a penalty.
13:11 Something I've been noticing more and more of lately - Milan Hejduk taking the draw instead of Paul Stastny. I assume this is more about setting up a shot, as neither player is very good at draws (46 and 48 percent respectively), and Stastny has improved in this area of late.
11:57 Lombardi gets called for a hold against Mark Rycroft.
8:49 Colorado has a 10-1 shot advantage so far in the 2nd.
8:44 Kyle Keefe interviews the attractive girlfriends of Marek Svatos and Liles in the stands.
5:57 Dion Phaneuf has mostly kept his testosterone in check tonight, but does take the opportunity to whack Wolski with his stick after the whistle. Brunette immediately comes to Wolski's defense. Again, nothing happens that crosses the line enough to draw a penalty.
5:26 Regehr called for hooking on Arnason.
3:40 Pretty, pretty goal. Sakic starts the play on the side boards. He passes to Brunette in front. Brunette struggles to get control, but, when he does, immediately backhands a blind pass to Milan Hejduk all alone. It's a great play from Brunette, who is on his way to career numbers in just about every category.
3:32 Rycroft crushes Dion Phaneuf, a nice use of one of his 12 shifts in the game.
19:10 Colorado takes the lead. Brett McLean and Phaneuf chase down the puck deep in the Calgary zone. McLean outworks Phaneuf, gains control and passes it back to a wide open Paul Stastny. Stastny gets a tough angle shot off that Kipper has no clue on. No reason for that to go in, but it does, and the Avs lead. Credit McLean with some great hustle on the play. Stastny extends his point streak to 19 games, tied for 2nd most in franchise history (Sundin had a 30 game streak).
18:01 Wayne Primeau gets away with one, sending Ian Laperriere into the boards from behind just as the ref had his back to the play.
17:30 Liles makes a solid defensive play. Overall, a good game from him in his own end.
16:15 The Flames are having almost no sucess getting past the Colorado blue line.
16:33 Stastny and Hejduk have a great breakout, with Hejduk's shot going off the post.
14:25 Iginla dekes around Sauer at the blue line, starting a scoring chance for the Flames. It ends with Kristian Huselius shot getting blocked by Brett Clark, one of many things Clark does well. Sauer has been one of my favorites of late, but had a couple of plays tonight I'm sure he'd like back.
12:18 Brad Richardson steals the puck in the Flames zone resulting in a scoring chance. I haven't written enough about Richardson tonight - he's had a ton of zip. Despite the McLean play above, I still believe Richardson should be with Stastny and Hejduk. Obviously, Joel Quenneville disagrees. Regardless, this line was great tonight despite being held of the scoreboard.
9:57 The Flames again get stood up by 4 Avs at the blueline.
8:53 And again.
8:12 And again.
7:02 Sakic and Brunette have a 2 on 1 breakaway. Kipprusoff makes a great pad save on the first Sakic shot, and the second hits the post. Daymond Langkow fires the clearing attempt over the glass after that, resulting in a delay of game penalty.
6:32 Arnason gets leveled by Primeau. Arnason responds by jumping up, dropping his gloves, and challenging Primeau. Ha ha, just kidding. Wanted to see if you were still paying attention there. Arnason did nothing. Carry on.
5:45 As Peter McNab is telling us that we won't see any Avalanche defenders take chances, Brett Clark is skating behind the Calgary net.
4:12 Phaneuf checks Sakic...but Sakic doesn't move an inch.
4:04 Sakic returns the favor.
2:19 Ken Klee gets called for slashing after chopping Tanguay's stick. It's kind of a lame penalty...but there's no reason for Klee to be pulling that move in the 3rd period in a 1 goal game. The propensity for bad penalties is one of the big marks against Klee in an otherwise solid season.
1:53 Iginla has the chance of the game, but fans on the shot. Colorado dodges a bullet, and holds on to win.
>From the "If It Ain't Broke Department"...
C Sakic, LW Wolski, RW Brunette: 15:53 ATOI (EV), 3 pts (EV), 14 shots, +3
C Stastny, LW McLean, RW Hejduk: 13:22 ATOI (EV), 2 pts (EV), 5 shots, +3
C Arnason, LW Richardson, RW Laperriere: 12:23 ATOI (EV), 0 pts (EV), 10 shots, E
C Guite, LW Rycroft, RW Parker: 5:53 ATOI (EV), 0 pts (EV), 2 shots, E
D Clark & D Sauer: 17:51 ATOI (EV), 1 pt (EV), 6 shots, +2
D Klee & D Vaananen: 19:49 ATOI (EV), 0 pts (EV), 4 shots, +2
D Liles & D Finger: 9:53 ATOI (EV), 0 pts (EV), 1 shot, E
- In 14 games in February, Colorado was a + in just one game (the Anaheim shutout), and -13 overall for the month. So far in March, they've been a - in just one game, and is +9 overall.
- Brunette had a season high 7 shots. Barring a catastrophe, when the season is over Brunette will have career highs in goals, assists, points and shots. Not a bad return on 800 grand.