Well, there wasn't any dancing tonight. And really, they didn't deserve to. The Avalanche put on a clinic on how to turn over the puck, and the Flames capitalized on it. In the first 5 minutes, they seemed to be on their game. Too bad it didn't last.
To start off the game, Craig Anderson finally got that interference call for which we'd all been waiting as Jerome Iginla got a little too friendly in the crease. Unfortunately, Calgary's aggressive PK created a shorthanded chance, and Matt Hunwick decided the best way to stop it was by hooking the guy. Penalty Avs. Four on four lasted about ten seconds before the Flames went on their power play. At this point, the Avs put in some aggressive PK themselves and kept the puck in the offensive zone for much of it. Philippe Dupuis and TJ Galiardi got a two on four opportunity with a solid shot on goal, but Mikka Kiprusoff turned away the shorthanded chance. For the remainder of the penalty, the Avs kept the Flames to the outside, not allowing them to get any shots on net.
That was about the end of solid play by the Avs. David Jones pulled a goaltender interference penalty, and Calgary kept the Avs penned in the defensive zone for most of the time. Despite killing the penalty, the Avs were scrambling. All night, Calgary's best line was their top one; I don't think anyone is surprised that Alex Tanguay had their number. They forced Andy to come up big. At the end of one, both teams were kept off the scoreboard.
The second period started with, surprising, pretty even shots on net. Calgary had a weird chance when a shot on net created a funky rebound. Andy stood around like he thought the play was over while Tanguay thought the puck went in the net. Fortunately, it didn't go in and play continued.
The Flames kept the pressure on and were able to get a lot of bodies in front of the net. Tom Kostopoulos took advantage and netted one after a bad rebound by Andy. 42 seconds later, Tanguay cruised through the neutral zone and did a nice little drop pass between the legs that Iginla picked up and sent past Anderson low on his glove side. Two-nothing Flames.
Later, Daniel Winnik held the puck in at the blue line, but Galiardi was unable to hit the open net, a trend that would continue throughout the game. At the halfway point through the second, the Flames had more goals (2) than the Avs had shots on net (1) for the period. Joe Sacco, understandably, looked extremely angry.
At around 13 minutes in, Tim Jackman was off to the races on a breakaway. There was going to be a penalty called on Hunwick (who was HORRID this game), but Jackman decided not to wait. He sent the puck down low - which is ridiculous because Andy also went low...and had most of the net covered.
Ryan O'Byrne was doing his best to keep the team in it and was by far the best defenseman on the ice. He was getting his stick in the way of passes, hitting bodies, and even creating some offense. (Hooray, USA! Team USA won their game against Switzerland at this point, which made me happy, especially since the Avs were sucking so bad that they were making me miserable.) Adam Pardy took a holding penalty, but the power play was so bad, it really didn't matter. It also wasn't helping that Andy was passing the puck directly to the opposition. Penalty killed and the period ended with the Flames on top 3-0.
The third brought another open net chance, this time off of a Fleischmann shot that John-Michael Liles tried to stuff home. Nope. Ryan O'Reilly had an opportunity, but Kipper made a big save to deny him. Then Gali took a penalty (hooking) to send the Flames on yet another power play. Fortunately, Winnik decided he'd had enough and took a puck off of O'Reilly's face off win, went flying into the Flames' zone and, as he was being taken down from behind, slipped the puck one-handed between Kiprusoff's legs. He must have thought the play was going to be called or was trying to avoid the bodies coming at him because he didn't even try to stop it.
The boys continued with a strong penalty kill, limiting Calgary to only one shot. Putting on some pressure of their own (finally), Shattenkirk pinched in, moved across the crease and set Gali up with a great pass. Gali couldn't control the puck and, again, missed an open net chance.
With less than 6 minutes left, O'Byrne took a high sticking penalty. Sacco decided to send Matt Duchene out and the kid was all over the Flames. Still, Calgary was able to negate any shorthanded opportunities by getting sticks in the way of passes. Three minutes left and Duchene showed his skill and maturity as he moved into the zone, drew a hooking penalty, but saw Fleischmann skating in on the net. He sent a perfect pass across the crease and Flash brought the Avs within one. Andy skated to the bench with two minutes left, but Colorado couldn't get into the zone to set anything up. The game ended at 3-2 Calgary.
- Hunwick's worst game as an Avalanche
- O'Byrne's best (or one of) game as an Avalanche
- Happy New Year, folks! Here's to a winning 2011. (Now I'm going to get drunk, k?)
Next Up: Vancouver at the Pepsi Center on Sunday, 1/2/11 at 6 pm MT