I never really now what to expect in these types of games. The type of game where both teams have a TON of motivation to play well.
The first period was a picture perfect example of that type of game. For most of period both teams played a very calculated game without too many risks. The Avs managed to kill of an early slashing penalty to John Michael Liles. After that I thought that the Avs would get it going a little bit. Not so much. It wasn't until a great hit on Wade Belak by David Koci which turned into one of those good ol' punch in the face contests.
That seemed to knock the rust loose as shortly after that Matt Duchene cashed in on a perfect pass from Paul Stastny while the Avs were on a 5 on 3 power play. This was the Avs 7th goal while having a two man advantage, that is currently tops in the NHL. Oh yeah, Dutchy also increased his lead over John Tavares in the NHL rookie scoring race.
Craig Anderson did more of what have come to expect from him, and that is bailing out his team. Nashville out shot Colorado 12-4. Also noteworthy in the first period was Wojtek Wolski dropping the mitts with Steve Sullivan, raise your hand if you saw that one coming. Bueller? Yeah, me either.
The Avs started the second period on the penalty kill as Wolski inexplicably received the extra two minutes from the fight. The Avs killed that one off then turned up the pressure. A lot.
What generally happens when you outwork a team in just about every way? You are going to draw penalties. The Avs drew FIVE powerplays in the second period. Unfortunately all those chances turned into one goal. Brandon Yip cashed in off a pretty passing play in the offensive zone. Ryan Stoa also earned his first NHL point on the play, congratulations to him. This put the Avs up 2-0. Now we all know about the Avs difficulties holding a lead.
Seemingly right on cue, with the Predators on the powerplay, Cody Franson let an absolute bomb go from just about the top of the left wing faceoff dot that eluded Craig Anderson to cut the lead to 2-1. With the second period in the books, the Avs were taking a lead into the third period. Time for that blood pressure medication.
As the third period got underway, the game went back into that slow, very calculated game. Both teams just seemed to be waiting for the other guy to make that mistake and then capitalize on it. It just never came for either team though.
With a late powerplay for the Predators and Pekka Rinne on the bench, Craig Anderson stood tall and made the key saves when this team needed it the most. He even called on a goalie's best friend, the pipe, to make a game saving stop on Patric Hornqvist when he was down and out.
Overall win wasn't a "pretty" one. Just like Peter McNab said in the post game, "This was one of those games where you just go out there and battle hard, hope your goalie makes a couple big saves and you come out on top." Thankfully again for the Avs, Anderson was up to the challenge.
Probably the most disappointing part of this game, for me anyways, the powerplay going only two for NINE! Yup, that's not a typo. Through all of their hard work and tenacity, Colorado was able to earn nine powerplays against a Nashville team that only averages 9 penalty minutes a game.
The bottom line is that this is a great win for this team. They are now 14 games above .500 and really clicking on all cylinders. Let's hope that we can carry that momentum into Sunday and really stick it to the visiting Dallas Stars.