Wow, what a game. I'm not always fond of the song choices by the Pepsi Center staff, but they played Kiss' All Hell's Breakin' Loose late in the 3rd period, and that summed the game up perfectly. The Avs got a huge win against the Stars; they pulled into a 3-way tie for first in the NW and a chance for sole possession at the end of the day tomorrow.
Adam Foote missed the game (a minor hip injury according to Americanaro and the Rocky Mountain News) and the Avalanche defense looked a little confused in the early going. After they found their stride, though, they were on. their. game. Jeff Finger was a one-man wrecking machine (7 hits) and also had some offensive spark (3 shots). That may have been his finest game in the NHL. Meanwhile, John-Michael Liles went after Stephane Robidas after Robidas laid out Peter Forsberg. Liles was penalized, but his willingness to go to bat for a teammate was refreshing; he also was physical all night which gives me a chance to again remind people that while his offensive output has slipped, his defensive game is greatly improved.
In the 3rd period, Joel Quenneville broke up the ineffective Sakic, Forsberg and Hejduk line. At first, he had Forsberg skating with Stastny and Hejduk while Sakic played with Wojtek Wolski and Andrew Brunette. At the time, I made a note for this recap that I would prefer to see Forsberg play with Brunette. Sure enough, a few shifts later we did indeed see Bruno and Foppa out there together and the two both made some pretty passes to set up Scott Hannan's goal to tie the game at 1. Less than 3 minutes later, the two struck again with Forsberg's great pass setting up Brunette's game winning deflection goal. I'm assuming we'll see them together tomorrow.
There were certainly some negatives in the game. I was hoping Wolski's goal on Thursday would help him regain some confidence, but he looked like absolute junk for most of the night (and I'm one of the biggest Wolski fans out there). Milan Hejduk remains invisible. David Jones is playing some solid hockey, but appears to be completely snake-bitten when it comes to putting the puck on the net; he looks terrific until he's 10' from the net, and then he must just start gripping the shaft too tight or something and chokes on the shot. I also have to say that Joe Sakic still does not seem like himself (apparently there was talk that he might sit out this game). He's not winning draws and his shots just don't have their usual zip (understandable, as he's coming off a groin injury and generates so much power from his legs).
By the way, going in to the game, Scott Hannan had the 2nd-highest Ice Time Per Goal, with 1532:00 per goal scored. I think he'll fall down that list a bit. The "good" news: the number 1 guy on that list plays for us too - Adam Foote. Obviously, this means he will play tomorrow and score. You read it here first.