It must be a birthday thing. Last year on my birthday, the Avalanche shut out the Bruins 2-0 in Boston, a game that happened to be the first (and only) Avalanche game I've seen in person. A year later - and another year older - the Avs have done it again, shutting out the Anaheim Ducks 1-0.
The win was Colorado's 5th straight and 6 out of their last 7. Not a bad turnaround for a team that lost 5 in a row just two weeks ago. In all 6 of those win, Jose Theodore has gotten the start and held the opponent to 2 goals or less. Theodore was spectacular last night, turning aside 27 challenging shots to earn his 2nd shutout of the season. He needed to be good, as his counterpart Jonas Hiller was equally sharp at the other end. Despite a good overall performance, his team was only able to get one goal by Hiller and Theodore made it stand up.
Wojtek Wolski scored the loan goal. It was just his 2nd goal of 2008, and he looked extremely relieved after he shuffled Andrew Brunette's pass through Hiller's 5-hole. I actually didn't think Wolski was extremely sharp in the game. Hopefully, it'll help him get his confidence back and help him stop his recent slide.
The game took a little while to get going, with 6 penalties in the first 25 minutes. Neither team was able to get anything going with the man advantage, which didn't help the flow very much. Once Wolski scored at the 11:59 mark of the 2nd, though, it was like someone flipped a switch and the real game got underway. Suddenly, the game took on a playoff feel, with lots of back and forth action, tremendous hitting and superb goaltending. Teams were about even in hits (27-25 Anaheim, with Chris Kunitz recording an impressive 10), but I thought Colorado had some of the bigger hits...such as Jeff Finger leveling Doug Weight at the blueline, Kurt Sauer hammering Brad May behind our net and Cody McLeod checking Kent Huskins hard into the boards.
Anaheim got their licks in as well. Although the pre-game hype centered on fears that the Ducks would take liberties with Peter Forsberg, it actually was Joe Sakic who was the recipient of some of the bigger hits, including a smashing hit by Travis Moen. I was a little dissapointed that there was no retaliation for that hit. I guess the slim lead and the importance of the 2 points kept the Avs in check. Coincidentally, Scott Parker did dress for the game...and played two shifts. Two. His night was over before the 10 minute mark of the 1st period. Seems like a bit of a waste to me...
I did a live blog for this one, and that can be found here
The only change to the lineup was the addition of Jeff Finger. Finger's return forced Jordan Leopold to be a healthy scratch. He played with Leopold's partner, Ruslan Salei. And he played well.
- Joe Sakic led the Avs in TOI (23:36) and shots (6).
- Every Avalanche defenseman registered at least one hit in the game, and the group had 14 hits and 12 blocked shots.
- The Avs were 0 for 6 on the powerplay.
The Avalanche have a home and home against the Dallas Stars on Saturday and Sunday. If the season were to end today, Dallas would be our opponent.