I will readily admit that I thought this season was over a couple of weeks ago, but the Avalanche have just refused to give up, playing suberb hockey in the month of March. They entered the weekend 8 behind the 8th place Flames. We end up with the "best case" scenario - Calgary loses their game, we win both of ours. We now sit just 4 back of the Flames. It doesn't get more exciting than this.
Highlights from the game...
19:50 The Avs are wearing their 3rd jerseys. With just a few home games left, and, with the 3rds going into mothballs next year, I'm guessing this might be the last time we see these gorgeous duds for a while. What a shame.
16:35 Kurt Sauer's home run pass to Joe Sakic gets broken up at the SJ blue line.
14:59 Brad Richardson turns the puck over inside the Colorado zone, leading to a shot by Mike Grier. Grier misses.
13:30 Wojtek Wolski gets back to make a great defensive play on Joe Thornton. Wolski's scoring pace has slowed since his concussion, but his defensive play has improved substantially.
12:35 Milan Hejduk takes a lazy penalty - hooking against Bill Guerin.
11:46 Joe Thornton makes Colorado pay. Milan Michalek takes a shot to the right of Peter Budaj. Budaj makes the save, but can't control the rebound. There's a wild battle for the puck; Matt Carle comes up with it and blindly throws it across the net...right to a wide open Thornton. It's 1-0.
9:50 Ossi Vaananen gets sandwiched between a couple of Sharks in the corner. One of them is Mark Bell, who gets called for charging.
8:40 Hejduk and Andrew Brunette both have scoring chances at the side of the San Jose net (such good chances that the spotlight comes on prematurely). Evgeni Nabokov makes the stop, though.
8:29 Marek Svatos loses the puck to Grier but doesn't give up. He steals it back, turns the corner quickly, and flips the turnover into a 3 on 2 break in the other direction.
8:05 Tyler Arnason ties the game with - suprisingly - his first power play goal of the season. The shot from the point came from Brett Clark. On the way to the net it passed close to the stick of Svatos and then Arnason. Arnason gets credited with the goal.
7:12 Colorado gets nabbed for two many men. Mark Rycroft serves, which speaks volumes on how roles have changed on this team. Earlier in the season, Rycroft was one of the key guys on the PK. Now he's given way to guys like Hejduk and Ben Guite.
2:24 Grier gets of a good shot, and someone else (Bernier?) gets an even tougher shot away on the rebound. Two good saves from Budaj.
19:33 Milan Michalek catches Budaj napping, beating him with a bad-angle shot. Budaj has been exceptional in this stretch, but has allowed a couple of softies too. You can't lose focus like that at this juncture.
16:57 Down 2-1, the Avs are putting up some good pressure.
15:51 But it's the Sharks who score, with Bill Guerin collecting his 33rd of the season. Colorado is playing well, but is down 3-1.
14:42 Arnason goes off for hooking.
11:43 Colorado pulls to within 1. The play starts with Wolski inside the Colorado blue line. Under pressure, Wolski loses control, but is able to push the puck ahead to center ice. There, Andrew Brunette makes a tremendous play. In a foot race, Brunette positions himself between the Shark player and the puck - a smart, smart play. Brunette gets into the San Jose zone, passes to Sakic who gets a backhander off on net. Nabokov makes the save, but John-Michael Liles is pinching and grabs the rebound for an easy goal. Well, easy for Liles - Brunette worked his butt off for it.
8:39 Bell is headed to the box again, this time for a cross check on Arnason.
7:28 Liles gives the puck away in the offensive zone.
6:15 Wolski splits two San Jose defenders on the way to the net, but can't quite squeeze through to get a shot on net.
5:02 Brett McLean finds himself all alone in front of Nabokov, but the goalie pokes the puck away. Colorado is working hard to tie the score, and San Jose is in turtle mode.
4:25 Kurt Sauer hauls down Jonathon Cheechoo in what looked like a blatant penalty. He definitely got away with one there...to these eyes, at least.
19:01 Sakic attempts - by my count - his 3rd shot from the backhand tonight.
18:59 In the battle for the rebound, Guerin gets his stick up high on Wolski. Avs go on the powerplay.
18:06 Make it a 5 on 3 - Patrick Rissmiller gets called for a trip.
17:19 Liles gets a good shot off, but Nabokov makes a glove save. With 20 seconds left with the two-man advantage, Joel Quenneville takes his timeout to rest his squad. Curiously, he replaces Liles with Clark after the break.
16:10 Svatos has looked good this weekend. No points, but good effort and some nice chances.
14:55 Ossi Vaananen is...well, I'm not exactly sure what he is doing. It appears to be some sort of bizarre keep away game in his own corner. I wonder how that one looks in the playbook.
9:06 The Avs have been close to tying it. Finger, Sakic and Brunette all have a chance to tie it.
6:46 And they break through. Klee throws a long pass up the ice. It misses his intended target (Wolski?) and icing is waved off. Sakic chases it down along the side boards, moves the puck to the middle, and drops it back to Klee. Klee's shot is stopped, but Bruno is there for the rebound. The game is tied, 3-3.
6:03 Kyle McLaren makes a pretty drop pass behind his net to Paul Stastny. Stastny, of course, plays for a different team. He gets some alone time in front of the net, but can't convert. His streak ends tonight, which, I think, will only take some of the pressure off of him.
5:43 Klee and Bell get tangled up along the boards. The two fall awkwardly to the ice and it looks like Klee's skate catches Bell in the face. He goes off slowly. Two penalties and an injury - not exactly a day to remember for Bell.
4:17 Colorado has the puck, but gets whistled for a hand pass. Tyler Arnason gets upset at the call. Yes, you read that right.
3:32 Sakic takes a penalty at a terrible time, as he and Vaananen haul down Cheechoo in front of the net.
2:58 A takaway and clear by Stastny
2:45 Another clear.
2:25 Clear from Clark.
2:08 Sauer chases down a dump in, gets there first, and clears it.
1:28 Cheechoo gets a scoring chance, but Budaj freezes it against the post as time runs out on the powerplay.
1:19 Wolski turns the puck over in the zone to Rissmiller. Thankfully, the ensuing shot misses the net.
:27 Budaj turns the puck over behind the net. He's looking more and more like Roy every day.
:20 Thornton gets a big check on Brett Clark.
:13 Cheechoo joins in the fun, hitting Brett McLean. This, of course, is the controversial play of the night, as Cheechoo gets called for boarding. Cheechoo went ballistic after the call, and, honestly, I can't say that I blame him. I thought it was a clean hit - it wasn't late, and he hit McLean from the side, not the back. Just my opinion, of course. At any rate, the Avalanche will start OT on the power play.
4:41 And, like that, it's over. Milan Hejduk steps inside the blue line and blows the puck by Nabokov. The Shark's goalie was stellar on the first 39 shots he faced, but didn't seem too interested in extending OT by much. That's not terribly surprising - that extra point is worth far more to the Avs than it is to the Sharks. Great come from behind win for Colorado.
Quenneville has kept things pretty much the same over the stretch, and used the same lines in both weekend games.
C Sakic, LW Wolski, RW Brunette: 14:26 ATOI (EV), 4 pts (EV), 12 shots, +2
C Stastny, LW McLean, RW Hejduk: 13:35 ATOI (EV), 0 pts (EV), 4 shots, -2
C Arnason, LW Richardson, RW Laperriere: 9:30 ATOI (EV), 0 pts (EV), 9 shots, E
C Guite, LW Rycroft, RW Svatos: 7:42 ATOI (EV), 0 pts (EV), 3 shots, E
D Clark & D Sauer: 16:32 ATOI (EV), 0 pts (EV), 2 shots, -3
D Klee & D Vaananen: 16:06 ATOI (EV), 1 pt (EV), 4 shots, +2
D Liles & D Finger: 12:30 ATOI (EV), 1 pt (EV), 5 shots, +1
- Andrew Brunette and Brett Clark both hit career highs for points in the game.
- Clark has 2 goals and 2 assists against the Sharks this year.