Wow. Is this the same team that played on Thursday night? The names and numbers were the same, but this was not even close to the same team. Coach Joe Sacco said before the game that he guaranteed his team was going to play better tonight. Boy did they ever!
Less than a minute into the game the Avs superstar in the making Chris Stewart forced Andrew Raycroft to handle to puck a little too casually behind the net and make a desperation save sliding back into his crease. The puch was laying there waiting to be deposited into a a gaping net but Paul Stastny and TJ Galiardi appeared to tie each others sticks and forced the puck just wide.
One of things that I felt the Avs did really well in the first period was shots on net and getting traffic in and all around Andrew Raycroft. It paid dividends at the 10:02 mark of the 1st period as fresh call up from Lake Erie Kevin Porter put a rebound past Andrew Raycroft. It was Porter's first goal of the season. Picking up assists were David Van der Gulik (1st) and Philippe Dupuis (2nd). 1-0 Colorado.
Another bright spot in a great first period for the Avs was the play of Peter Budaj. While he wasn't over tasked, he made a few quality stops that were of the highlight variety.
Colby Cohen became another Boston University alum to make his Avalanche debut and got himself involved in the physical game as he laid a solid hit at center ice and a small skirmish ensued and he was sent off for roughing, as was Nicklas Grossman. Brendan Morrow and Chris Stewart were sent off for cross checking.
The Avs tried to give the Stars a way back into the game at the end of the 1st period as Cody McLeod was called for hooking Brad Richards at 18:43 of the 1st period. The Stars were able to get some sustained pressure on the power play (surprise, surprise) and had it not been for a couple great saves by Budaj and a smart play by Stastny without his stick enabling the defense to clear the zone. Colorado killed off the carry over penalty to start the second period.
The Avs kept up the physical play as the second period got underway and again, it paid off.
After sustaining some solid pressure in the Dallas zone and running a great cycle, Matt Duchene carried the puck out from behind the goal and threw the puck out in front. Raycroft made a save on a weak shot but the Dallas defenders were unable to clear the puck from out in front and Milan Hejduk (5th) made them pay. He stepped through a defender and lifted a back-hander up and over Andrew Raycroft at the 4:53 mark. Matt Duchene (8th) is responding to getting benched for a significant amount of the 2nd period against Vancouver on Thursday picked an assist, as did Brandon Yip (3rd). 2-0 Colorado.
Peter Budaj continued his hot play during the middle of the second period. He was forced to make several saves on shots through traffic and off of rebounds. I could not be happier with his play over the last several games. I'm really glad that he is getting a chance to shine right now.
Colby Cohen made another rookie mistake at 12:22 as he took a holding penalty for holding Brendan Morrow behind the net. Then, the Avs did something that they haven't done all season, score a shorthanded goal. I don't know what was said at practice during the week, but whatever it was I'm glad it was said. The Avs were forcing the issue on the PK and the Dallas defense was caught pinching. Phillippe Dupuis (1st NHL goal) went in on a 2 on 1 with Kevin Porter and beat Andrew Raycroft with a wicked wrister high over the glove. Scott Hannan (2nd) picked up the lone assist on the goal. 3-0 Colorado.
As was the case all night, the Avs kept up the physical play from the drop of the puck until the buzzer. In true Foppa fashion, Kyle Quincey put Mike Riberio on his back as he went to try and make a play on the puck in the corner as time was expiring to end the 2nd period.
As the puck dropped on the 3rd period, I caught myself thinking, I hope the Avs keep their foot on the gas pedal and don't give this high scoring Dallas team a chance to get back into this game.
Both teams seemed very content to play a cautious 3rd period, Dallas almost content to just mail in the rest of the game, then BOOM went the dynamite.
The Avs decided to put this game absolutely out of reach as Kevin Porter (2nd) scored his second goal of the night with Phillipe Dupuis (2nd) getting the lone assist on the tally. 4-0 Colorado.
Then just 31 seconds later, Matt Duchene ( put an absolutely perfect pass on the stick of Brandon Yip (3rd) who just laid his blade flat on the ice and sent a beautiful deflection past a visually defeated Andrew Raycroft. 5-0 Colorado.
The Avs had a chance to extend the lead on the power play as James Neal was whistled for slashing at 6:46 of the 3rd. The Avs had a few good chances but came up empty.
As can be expected when the score gets a little lopsided, the game started to get a little chippy. As Peter Budaj made a routine save, Steve Ott skated by the crease and gave Budaj a relatively harmless bump, in fact most nights, it would have gone unnoticed. Not tonight though. Now that Colby Cohen has made it up to the NHL, it sure looks like he doesn't want to go back to the AHL as he got in the face of Steve Ott and drew a penalty that gave the Avs another chance on the PP at 12:21 of the 3rd period.
The Avs did a lot of things right tonight and boy did it show. Tonight was a really great TEAM win tonight. Everyone from the top of the lineup all the way to the "bottom", this team really came to play tonight and it absolutely showed. Now that they know what they are capable of when they put in a full 60 minute game, will we see this more often? I sure hope so.
Derek's Three Stars of the Game:
3rd Star: Kevin Porter, 2 goals
2nd Star: Phillipe Dupuis, 1 goal, 2 assists
1st Star: Peter Budaj, 31 saves, 1st Shutout