photo courtesy of Roy Dabner/AP
Is it possible to criticize the shootout for being too individualistic when it goes twelve rounds and involves more than half of each team's lineup?
The Colorado Avalanche beat the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 in a shootout after blowing a one-goal lead with just two seconds left in the third period. They got pretty lucky, considering how well Coyotes backup goalie Mikeal Tellqvist played the entire game, and how much pressure his team was able to apply throughout the third period. But the Avs won on the back of their own netminder Jose Theodore, who had a superb game overall.
The game was scoreless half-way through the first period when Scott Parker got called for tripping, which is pretty much all he did in the game. Just a minute later, Karlis Skrastins completely lost his mind and grabbed Joel Perrault's stick like he'd never played hockey before and got called for it. The subsequent 5-on-3 lasted all of ten seconds, when Steven Reinprecht beat Theodore and the Coyotes went up a goal.
Luckily, Son Of Stastny, back from a long injury layoff, was having none of that crap and decided to take matters into his own hands. He got an outlet pass from Jordan Leopold, skated the length of the ice, split two defenders, took a great wrist shot that was stopped and then shoveled home the rebound. Goal!!! It was like Christmas, for real.
Then, in the second period, rebound goal master Marek Svatos took a great pass from Scott Hannan and snapped a shot past Tellqvist on the power play. No joke. The Avs then took the lead, which could only mean one thing---no more offense for the rest of the game.
With the exception of a couple of good forechecking shifts (mostly by the RPM line of Ryan Smyth, Stastny and Milan Hejduk), the Avs slipped into their usual "wait for the other team to score" strategy of "preserving" a lead. And once again it completely worked. The other team scored! With two seconds left! Derek Morris' big shot from the point hit Paul Stastny and deflected past a well-screened Jose Theodore to tie it up with almost nothing left in the game.
But anyway, such is life. The Avs kept the Coyotes held down pretty well in OT and the shootout commenced. An even exchange of saves and goals took the sucker to the twelfth round, where Cody McLeod was finally able to contribute to his team's success by beating Tellqvist with a great little wrister. Jose Theodore then stoned Keith Yandle (who?) and the fiasco was over. John-Michael Liles and Tyler Arnason scored the other shootout goals for the Avs (no, I'm not kidding).
The good news is that Colorado finally got two points in the standings. The bad news is that the Coyotes got one point, and Calgary beat Detroit. Also in the bad news column is Jeff Finger's reported hand injury, which sidelined him---hopefully it's as minor as the team says, but you know how that goes. He'll probably have liver surgery in a couple of days.
Anyway, the road ahead continues to be treacherous for the Avs, and a playoff spot still seems too far away.
Stars of the Game:
- Jose Theodore (27sv, .931)
- Mikael Tellqvist (27sv, .931)
- Paul Stastny (1g, 0a)