Oh, Pepsi Center. Why do you hate us so? The Avalanche continue to struggle at home, losing 3-1 to the Oilers tonight. They've lost all three home games this year and 15 of their last 17 going back to last year. Overall, the Avalanche have won a total of 6 home games in 2011. That's not going to help those attendance numbers (15,057 tonight).
It's a shame, because the Avalanche played a good game tonight. If you were to tell me that the Avalanche would outshoot the Oilers 41-19, would kill of 3 of 4 penalties, win 64 percent of the draws and hold Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall to 1 shot on net, then I would tell you the Avs would probably win the game...unless they were playing a backup goalie, of course.
Enter Devan Dubnyk. The former 1st round pick has absolutely owned the Avalanche over his brief NHL career. He was 3-0-1 with a .950 save percentage and 1.62 gaa against Colorado going into the game. And those numbers all improved this evening.
The teams opened up with a fairly-evenly played first period. The Avs had an 11-9 shot advantage and had a couple of good scoring chances but had nothing to show for it. Semyon Varlamov kept pace with Dubnyk, though, and the teams went into the first intermission still knotted at zero.
The 2nd period didn't work out quite so well. The Avalanche had a 14-5 shot advantage, despite spending almost six minutes shorthanded. But, they couldn't crack Dubnyk while the Oilers notched two goals. The first game at the 7:55 mark, just a second before a goalie interference penalty on Gabriel Landeskog expired. Cam Barker had the puck down low and simply waltzed in front of the net before anyone could get on him; he beat Varlamov with a beautiful shot for his first goal of the year. About 6 minutes later, the Oilers changed on the fly during what appeared to be an innocent looking rush up the ice. Lennart Petrell dropped the puck back to Andy Sutton lumbering in from the bench and Sutton simply rifled it past Varlamov. The Avs defense was slow to pick up Sutton...but that's also a shot Varlamov should have stopped. The good news is, there haven't been many of those this year. The bad news is, it was a bad spot for it as the Avs ended up going down 2-0 after two despite a dominant second period.
The Avalanche put the pressure on in the third and got a huge PP opportunity in the 3rd when Cam Barker got called for crosschecking. They converted with Kyle Quincey and Matt Duchene setting up O'Reilly for a nice one-time shot to cut the lead to 2-1. The crowd reacted strongly to the goal and the Avalanche seemed destined to build on the momentum and tie up the game.
That momentum lasted for 27 seconds. The Oilers again turned an innocent rush into a goal when Kevin Porter and Jan Hejda collided at the blueline, allowing the Oilers to flood the zone. After a couple of whacks at it, the puck got under Varlamov's pads (Ryan Smyth was credited with the goal, although I thought Shawn Horcoff was the last to touch it). The goal was, in a word, deflating. The Avalanche continued to press hard (16-5 shot advantage in the 3rd), but could not crack Dubnyk again. The curse of the backup goalie (and the Pepsi Center drought) continues.
It was a frustrating loss to say the least. The Oilers have a solid young team and, since I don't hate them like I do the Canucks and Flames, I'm excited to see these two young teams rekindle a little rivalry (there was a lot of chippiness as the game wore on and someone needs to punch Tom Gilbert for all the liberties he took after the whistle tonight). But, the Avs were the better team tonight just about everywhere but the scoreboard. It's a tough loss to swallow.
MHH Avalanche 3 Shiny Orbs of the Night
- Ryan O'Reilly. One big goal, and he was awesome all game long
- Gabriel Landeskog. No points, but he, O'Reilly and Winnik were all terrific
- Matt Duchene. 1 assist, 5 shots, 11 of 14 wins in the faceoff circle
- Jones, Stastny, Hejduk (and they got the 1st and 2nd period starts tonight)
- Lindstrom, Duchene, Kobasew
- Landeskog, O'Reilly, Winnik
- McLeod, McClement, Porter
- Hejda, Johnson
- Quincey, O'Brien
- Wilson, O'Byrne
TJ Galiardi was an unhealthy scratch tonight, with Kevin Porter taking his spot on the 4th line
- After a timeout in the 3rd period, Sacco had a rested bench for his PP. He went with Landeskog (18), O'Reilly (20), Duchene (20), Johnson (23) and Quincey (26).
- Former Avalanche Ryan Smyth was on the ice for all 3 Edmonton goals. Tom Preissing was on the ice for none of them.
- Dan Winnik has yet to be on the ice for a PP goal scored against the Avs
- Stop bitching about Duchene, please. The kid is fine.
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