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Game 17 Recap: Avalanche 4 - Blackhawks 3 (SO)

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Final - 11.6.2009 1 2 3 OT SO Total
Chicago Blackhawks 2 1 0 0 0 3
Colorado Avalanche 1 2 0 0 1 4

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We've got a thing that's called radar love
We’ve got a line in the sky, radar love

-Golden Earring, Radar Love

Well, that was fun. It wasn't the most picture-perfect hockey game, but sometimes those "off" games are the most entertaining. And the Avs won, which always helps. Tack on another great game by Craig Anderson, someone finally making Tomas Kopecky pay for running roughshod over our goalie, some highlight reel goals from Radar O'Reilly and David Jones and, of course, a drunken thedoctor in the game thread and you have all the makings of a fun filled evening.

It started...poorly. The Avs were a tad flat to start the game. By the 10 minute mark, the Avalanche had 1 shot, while the Blackhawks had two goals. But anyone who's watched the Avalanche this year (except jcarti01) knows that you can't give up on this team. The Avs are now 6-2-2 when giving up the first goal. Going down early like that only seems to do one thing: it wakes them up.

By the end of the first, the Avs had started to pick up steam (Joe Sacco had already changed up the lines before the first intermission) and at the 18:38 mark Ryan O'Reilly banged home a rebound of his own shot to cut the lead to 2-1.

About 6 minutes into the 2nd period, the Avs had the Blackhawks right where they wanted them: on the powerplay. The Avs were still struggling to get shots on net, but the Blackhawks PP was the perfect remedy. First, David Jones took advantage of having Dustin Byfgulien on the point (yay, Quenneville!). He turned what would have been an opportunity for a clear into a breakaway as he blew around "Big Buf" before floating a backhand past Antti Niemi (a save Niemi certainly should have made). But wait, there was more. With time ticking down on the same inept powerplay, Ryan O'Reilly found himself all alone on a breakaway. Niemi made the first shot, but Radar collected the rebound and calmly potted it to give the Avs a 3-2 lead. Officially, the PP ended a second before O'Reilly scored, but that puppy was, for all intents and purposes, a shorthanded goal.

We can't overstate the job this kid has done this year. After tonight's game, O'Reilly has 14 points. That's tied for 2nd on the Avs in scoring and tied for first among rookies (with James van Riemsdyk). More amazing to me, though, is that ALL of his points have come at even strength. Only two players in the league have more points at even strength than O'Reilly does - Alex Ovechkin and Anze Kopitar. That is most impressive. And that's just his offense - it doesn't even factor in that he's our best penalty killer, our best faceoff man (not that that's saying much) or that his +13 +/- is 3rd best in the league and #1 among forwards. And, unlike that stiff Duchene, he's got not one, but TWO cool nicknames? ORLY? Yes, really.

At any rate, the goals by Jones and O'Reilly were two of the whopping 3 shots the Avalanche mustered in the 2nd period (including a two minute powerplay). That meant that the Blackhawks - deflated after blowing a lead in just under two minutes - had a chance to gather their senses and get back into the game. They put some pressure on the Avs through the rest of the period. Craig Anderson made some brilliant saves, but ultimately Andrew Ladd tied it up towards the end of the 2nd.

The third period was wild. The Avalanche activated their 5 healthy defensemen (Johnny Liles reinjured his hot pocket in the 1st and left the game) at almost every opportunity. That led to a lot of scoring chances for the Avs...and a few for the Blackhawks as well. Both goalies played an excellent 3rd period, though, and, after regulation ended, each held their ground in OT as well.

That brought us to the shootout, which was almost a carbon copy of the 9-round dazzler in Chicago earlier. This time, it took 8 rounds. 16 shots and only 3 made it in. One from Patrick Kane, one from Marek Svatos (the new Wolski in the shootout) and, finally, the winner from Chris Stewart. It was a big win. Maybe not the most deserving, but we'll take the points.

Oh, and thank you Adam Foote for FINALLY making Tomas Kopecky pay for constantly running into Craig Anderson for the 2nd straight game. Foote took advantage of some swallowed whistles in a late-game flurry to put a whole bunch of hurt on Kopecky, driving him into the ice in the corner and then slamming him a couple of times in the back and then repeating the drubbing later on the same shift in front of the net. He could have easily gotten a penalty for it, but Kopecky certainly had it coming to him.

 

Lines

  • Hejduk - Stastny - Jones
  • McLeod - Duchene - Svatos
  • Wolski - O'Reilly - Stewart
  • Koci - Dupuis - Hendricks

As I mentioned above, these all changed before the end of the 1st period, although the McLeod, Duchene and Svatos line was reunited in the 3rd (oh, joy). Hejduk also moved back to the right side after starting the game on the left side (something that started midway through Wednesday's game).

Johnny Hot Pocket was injured in the game. Tom Preissing was sent to Lake Erie on Thursday for a conditioning assignment, so it stands to reason that he'd be available if Lile's injury will cause him to miss time. Ryan Wilson is around as well, of course.

Meanwhile, Chris Durno was sent back to Lake Erie as well to make room for Matt Hendricks.

 

Quick Hits

  • Say what you want to about Brett Clark, but that mofo blocked 12 shots in the game. Twelve!
  • O'Reilly led all players with 6 shots
  • The Avs have outscored their opponents 21-13 in the 2nd period this year.

Video Highlights

Next Up

The Avs try to continue as the only unbeaten team at home when they face off agains the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.