One way or another, it was going to come down to special teams. For a change, it was the boys in burgundy and blue winning that battle. The Avalanche gave up two power play goals tonight (on only 3 chances), but scored three of their own, including the David Jones winner in overtime as the Avs finally beat the Canucks, 4-3.
This was not quite the coming-out-of-their-shell game that I was hoping for in today's preview. The Avs were outshot in each of the regulation periods, and the Canucks had a 43-30 shot advantage on the game. And the Avalanche didn't lead the game until the winning goal.
Offensively, the Avalanche still seem off their game. The line of Jones, Stastny and Hejduk was excellent...but they accounted for 14 of the Avs 30 shots. Fleischmann, Duchene and Stewart just never seemed to have anything and even their little dinky drop passes to each other seemed half-hearted. Fleischmann did set up the Jones winner, but the rest of the game wasn't much to write home about.
There are some positive signs, though. This was the first game all year that the Avs scored 3 PP goals. John-Michael Liles had a goal and and two assists, his first multi-point game since December 17th. Kevin Shattenkirk assisted on Jones' winning goal, to give him 2 in the last 4 games after going 9 without a point.
And, how about Craig Anderson? While he's still not quite in that San Jose playoff form, he's very quietly put a nice string of games together. Since getting pulled against Minnesota, Anderson has a 2.40 GAA and a .923 save percentage. He has just 3 wins to show for it in those 7 starts, but his play tonight kept the Avs in it and ultimately was the difference. And that save he made tonight on Christian Erhoff in overtime was freaking brilliant. Now if we can just get a little more offense going in front of him...
It's a big win tonight. It's been almost exactly a month since the Avs last won two in a row. Perfect? No. Will I take it? Hell yes!
- Jones, Stastny, Hejduk
- Fleischmann, Duchene, Stewart
- Porter, Dupuis, Winnik
- McLeod, Galiardi, Koci
- Liles, O'Byrne
- Wilson, Foote
- Hunwick, Shattenkirk
- The Avs have 4 wins in 2011, and Jones has the game winner in 3 of them, including two in overtime.
- Kevin Porter had a penalty shot in the 2nd, but was denied.
- Sergei Shirokov and Chris Tanev were both making their NHL debuts. Both had an excellent game. Shirokov scored a beauty of a goal (after pushing Ryan Wilson away, WTF?) and Tanev broke up a 3 on 1 late in the 3rd period.
- Tough luck for Jones. His two goals - including the game winner - weren't enough to land him one of the 3 stars for the night. That went to Hejduk, Liles and Anderson. Honestly, I would have given Hejduk's spot to Jones; no dis on Hejduk - I just think Jonesy had an excellent game.
The Avs face Marek Svatos and the Nashville Predators on Thursday.