To say this game was a big win for the Avs would be an understatement. In the words of Donald Trump, "It's yuge!"
Despite being considerably out-shot and out-chanced throughout the game, the Avs cruised to a 3-1 victory on the now-healthy back of one completely revitalized and dominant Jose Theodore, who closed the door on the Sharks with authority. He made 30 saves on 31 shots, and the lone goal he allowed was a sweet one-timer he had no chance to stop. All in all, a superb performance.
While I'm still unready to relax completely about him being the starter, it is excellent to see him finally live up to his potential, even if it ends up being for just a few more games. He's stopping pucks and winning games, so I'll take it.
TJ Hensick continues to single-handedly resurrect the Colorado power play. He scored his fifth goal in three games (four on the PP) and it proved to be the game-winner. Considering that Paul Stastny will be returning to the lineup on Saturday against the Canucks, and somebody will have to be sent back down to Lake Erie, Hensick picked the perfect time to start kicking ass. He's finally earning those two extra i's in his last name. Hensiiick indeed.
Also scoring for the Avs were defensive stalwarts Ben Guite, who scored first with an amazing mid-air deflection of a Brett Clark slapper, and Jeff Finger, who potted an empty-netter in the very last second of the game to seal the deal. Clark had two assists, while Ian Laperriere and Jaroslav Hlinka added one helper each.
Colorado's defense allowed far too many shots from the Sharts, but considering all but one were stopped, things could have been worse. For several stretches of the game the D was very solid, Skrastins Not Withstanding, and most of the shots allowed were desperation attempts with no chance anyway.
Joe Thornton of the Sharts took an unintentional stick to the nose early in the game, which inspired some whiny bellyaching from the FSN Bay Area announcers and an equal amount from Thornton himself. Cody McLeod was the apparent offender, and later in the first period Mike Grier went after him. McLeod traded rights with the Sharts power forward, but it was a draw and the refs separated them before either hit the ice. Oh well. I wish McLeod had pummeled that bald guy in the FSN booth instead---what a tool.
The win moved the Avs back into second place in the Northwest Division, just behind Minnesota, and also into fifth place in the Western Conference playoff race, tied again with Anaheim.
The next game is Saturday night against a struggling Vancouver Canucks team. Paul Stastny is expected to return after missing nine games due to an appendectomy.
ADDENDUM: I can't believe I forgot to mention the strangest aspect of last night's game---the ice times. The forward with the most time on the ice last night was Ben Guite at 20:37. Only Lappy was close, with 19:37. The scoring forwards like Hejduk, Wolski, Svatos, Hlinka and Hensick, were way behind with 14:52, 15:53, 13:19, 17:31 and 9:55, respectively. Considering his hot streak, it seems strange that Hensick would be getting less than ten minutes on the ice---but Q's playing him on the power play and it's paying off.
Stars of the Game:
- Jose Theodore (30sv, .968)
- Patrick Marleau (1g, 0a)
- Brett Clark (0g, 2a)