This is the game Craig Anderson wanted to have when he first faced his former club back in December. Anderson allowed 5 goals in that game and was knocked out of the game by Keith Ballard. Tonight was a slightly better outcome for Andy, as he recorded his league-leading 7th shutout as the Avalanche skated to a 3-0 win over Florida.
After a disappointing game on Tuesday, the Avalanche put in a solid 60-minute effort this evening. It wasn't the most exciting game, especially early on, but did pick up intensity as the night wore on. After both teams skated to a 0-0 tie in a decidedly unspectacular first period, the Avs finally cracked Tomas Vokoun in the 2nd. Matt Duchene came oh-so-close to scoring before Keith Ballard swept the puck under Vokoun at the last moment. The play was close enough to warrant a review, but before the next whistle Brett Clark - a healthy scratch for the last 3 games - got two Panthers to bite on his fake shot before firing a real shot on net, with the rebound landing right on Stastny's backhand to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead. About 10 minutes later, with the Avalanche on their newly dangerous powerplay, Chris Stewart found Stastny alone in the slot and Stastny buried it to make it 2-0.
Honestly, I was already thinking shutout before that goal. Anderson was playing well and Florida's attack didn't seem to have much bite on the evening. While the Avs did have some rough stretches defensively around the midway point of the 3rd, they seemed to shake it off and got back onto solid ground. Anderson some terrific saves in the 3rd, turning around all 13 shots that he faced. Matt Hendricks converted on a breakaway off of a turnover late in the game to ice the win for the Avs. Colorado got a much-needed 2 points in front of another sparse Denver crowd; 11, 485 was the official attendance, the 11th time this year the Avs have drawn under 12,000.
I do have a couple of burning questions about the game. One, does the PA guy always play "Round and Round" or was the Ratt song a special selection for the Panthers? And, more importantly, is there a good reason why Altitude has consistently gotten the lines wrong this year? Tonight, they listed Kyle Quincey in the lineup even though he was a healthy scratch. You guys all work for the same company, folks - do you think you can share information a little better?
Next game: Sunday afternoon, in Dallas