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Recap: Colorado 2 - Vancouver 1 (SO)

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It's been 12 hours since I finished watching the game, and I'm still a wee bit giddy. The Vancouver Canucks hadn't lost to a NW team all year. Roberto Luongo hadn't been scored on since the Eisenhower administration. The Canucks were 8-1 when scoring first (which they ended up doing in this game). And the Avs of late had been scoring about as much as I did in college. It wasn't going to be pretty.

But it was pretty. Roberto Luongo was exceptional, as advertised. He turned away all 16 first period shots from an Avalanche team that was surprisingly...well, good. Many of his first period saves were highlight-reel saves, and every one invoked chants from the 18,630 fans at GM Place. However, Luongo had an equal tonight at the other end of the ice - 1st star Peter Budaj. Budaj turned away all 8 1st period shots that he faced, and the goaltender battle was on.

The Canucks got past Budaj in the 2nd, but they needed a penalty shot (and a *ahem* generous call) to do it. But after Tyler Pyatt buried his gift, Budaj was perfect the rest of the way. He seemed to get better as the game went on and his best saves were among the 9 Vancouver powerplay shots he turned away. And, of course, he turned away 2 of the 3 shots he faced in the shootout, giving Marek Svatos the opportunity to win it with his wicked roofer. It was an excellent game for Peter. Beating a red-hot Luongo in a shootout has to be a tremendous confidence booster. By the way, did anyone else notice all the wraparound attempts Vancouver was trying? I'm guessing the Canucks had some scouts watching when Budaj struggled against those earlier in the year - such as, for example, the Penner goal in Edmonton.

It can't hurt that his defense is playing much better in front of him. Against Nashville, Tony Granato changed the pairings, matching Scott Hannan with Adam Foote and Brett Clark and John-Michael Liles. And, he seems to have abandoned the idea that of having 3 average pairings sharing the load. In the first game of the year, all 3 defensemen played around 16 minutes at even strength. Last night, Liles and Clark were at 16, Foote had 20, Hannan 18, Salei was under 15 and Leopold was just under 13. Foote and Hannan were out there against the Sedins all night, and I think using them as the shutdown pairing is going to work much better than to spread stuff out evenly. Obviously, it's working well, as the only goal scored since the change was a penalty shot.

Up front, the Avalanche got a good overall effort. Every player besides Scott Hannan registered a shot on net. Only one got by Luongo - originally credited to Paul Stastny, it's since been changed to Marek Svatos - but Luongo was, of course, in his groove. Even though they scored just the one goal, I think it will give a bit of a confidence boost as well.

The Avalanche are still in last place, of course (and will still be no matter what happens on Saturday in Edmonton), but they seem to be turning the corner and playing to their potential like they did against Buffalo. And I've said it before - this team is capable of being very, very good when they do that.

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Joe Sakic missed the game with that bad back and Ben Guite is out with a rib injury. That meant there were no healthy scratches up front. And that's a good thing, as I speculated Marek Svatos could be the scratch. All he did was score the lone regulation goal and the game winner in the shootout.

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  • Was I the only one surprised that neither Sedin was used in the shootout?

  • The Avs won just 41% of the draws, but they won some timely ones. Stastny was 6 of 9 in offensive zone draws.

  • The Avalanche apparently had a 21-14 advantage in the hit department, but it seemed like it was much more event than that.


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The Avs take on Jesse Boulerice and the rest of the Edmonton Oilers in Edmonton on Saturday. The Oilers are currently 3 points ahead of Colorado in the NW division.

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