For the 2nd straight game, the Colorado Avalanche were not the best team on the ice. For the 2nd straight game, it didn't matter. The Avs came out a tad flat against the Coyotes...and seemed to deflate as the game went on. The Coyotes weren't any better at the start, and put the Avs on 3 power plays in the first period, and Colorado converted on one to put the Avalanche up 1-0.
Reportedly, Dave Tippet ripped into his team during the first intermission and it paid off. Phoenix scored early in the 2nd period to tie the game and had the edge for most of the rest of the way. The Avalanche were outshot 24-9 in the final 40 minutes and the Avalanche were fortunate to still be in the game. It was still knotted up at late in the 3rd when Matt Duchene beautifully deflected Brett Clark's point shot past Ilya Bryzgalov for the game winner. It was Duchene's 20th goal of the season. He now leads the Avalanche in goals scored and would appear to have a solid lead in the Calder Trophy race.
Not that any of that really matters. Bottom line: the Avalanche won. Vancouver won as well tonight, so the Avs still stay in 6th place, but that's two more points for the playoff race. It also helps the Avs in any potential tiebreaker scenarios with Phoenix (something I'm going to break down at some point during the break). I'd love to see the Avalanche play better, but I'm happy to see them grabbing points.
The Coyotes? Not so happy. Although they played well tonight, they also had some undisciplined stretches with 4 minor penalties in the 1st and 5 penalties in the 3rd. One was a phantom high sticking call on Matt Lombardi, but the one that drove the Phoenix bench nuts was an interference call on Ed Jovanovski with just under 2 minutes to go. Honestly, replays didn't catch the play, but Jovo and Dave Tippet seemed to be arguing that Brandon Yip "embellished" on the play. Any sympathy headed towards the Coyotes completely evaporated just moments later when Martin Hanzal boarded Kyle Cumiskey into the boards (earning him 15 minutes in penalties). Cumiskey had to be helped off the ice (joining Adam Foote who left early on with a back injury). It was an ugly penalty, especially for a play so late in the game. Suspendable? No. Avoidable? Absolutely. We'll see you boys again on March 4th...