White goal pads kick ass in my opinion. Last night, the Avs did their level best to put as many black puck marks on Islanders' netminder Rick DiPietro's (henceforth referred to as TheRick) pristine new leg pads. Colorado launched 38 shots on goal in regulation with only one getting through the only player in the history of the NHL to have a 15-year contract. They needed only one shot in the extra period to get the win and the extra point after a game they dominated for long stretches.
The game started with some weirdness (at least for Quenneville) when he started his top line of Hejduk-Statsny-Hensick. Wait? Whaaaaat? Hensick on the top line? Did Wolski kill a kitten in the hallway before the game or something? They got a couple of seconds of ice time before Coach Q. rolled out Lappy and Co. so maybe he just forgot this was a game and not practice. Who knows. I think he’s drunk. Why else would Cumiskey AND Boychuk play forward the entire game? Better yet, what message does that send to
Stewart Jones and Co. in Monster-ville when Q would rather have defensemen play up than call one of them up to the show? That’s a question for another time.
All in all, the Avs got some great pressure for most of the game, and the Isles were content to counterpunch instead of initiating offense. The only Isles goal of the night was just that. A horrible, sloppy change lead to a 2-on-1 rush by Tim Jackman and Bruno Gervais (not to be confused with the much funnier Ricky Gervais, creator of "The Office" and "Extras"). Jackman wristed a shot from 20-odd feet over Theo’s shoulder. The rest of the time they relied heavily on the redunkulous play of TheRick as he made mind-blowing save after mind-blowing save. It was working for them until Leoprone finally got one past TheRick in the second period after some stellar work by Wolski on the rush lead to shot that deflected in off of Leoprone.
Speaking of Wolski, he and Clark had the best nights for the Avalanche. Clark broke up numerous odd-man rushes, especially in the third, when the Avs got caught flat-footed in the neutral zone or pinching in on offense. Wolski decided he was the second coming of Lemieux and started showing some mad puck-handling skills. He was rewarded by being bumped up to the top line with Son of Statsny and The Duke by the beginning of the second period. The Svats Machine had his wheels on last night too and was trying his level best to finish some great feeds from Hlinka. Unfortunately, TheRick was having none of it.
A horrible high-sticking penalty by Lappy of all people gave the Isles some life in the last minute of the game, but Theo managed to hold on to everything and flashed some leather to keep the Avs in it. The PK still had a minute of work to do in the OT, but managed to kill off the infraction. Not long after, some good passing work by Liles and Hannan got Svatos the puck down low and he roofed a backhand past TheRick for the game-winner!
Another close, quality game against an Eastern Conference opponent. Hopefully that will carry over the upcoming East Coast road trip.
#3 Theo (23 saves on 24 shots, including a couple of classic glove saves in the waning moments of the 3rd)
#2 Svatos (GW goal, +1, 4 SOG in 18+ minutes of TOI)
#1 TheRick (37 saves on 39 shots, many of them of the "grand-theft larceny" style)