The medication for what ailed the Avs was apparently a game against another team falling down the standings. Jean-Sebastien Giguere got his second consecutive start on back-to-back nights and Colorado looked to get a biscuit in the basket after the 1-0 loss in Minnesota. Some new-look Franken-lines debuted at the start and remained intact throughout the game resulting in an early goal. What followed was an Avalanche-controlled tilt with multiple shots on the power play in the third period. It all accumulated for the best home victory for the Avalanche this season as they down Dallas 3-0 behind stellar goaltending and an <ahem> avalanche of shots.
The first period was fairly pedestrian at the beginning before the Avalanche started racking up chances and shots. True to form though, Kari Lehtonen made all the easy saves and a couple of slightly-above-average ones. Dallas didn't spent much time in the Avs' end except to send in a forechecker. Around six minutes in some sustained pressure by one of the Franken-lines saw T.J. Galiardi work hard in the corner before sending the puck back to the point where Ryan Wilson took a look before putting a hard shot about a foot wide of the left post. Chuck Kobasew managed to get the puck with just the tip of his stick and redirected it past Lehtonen. The goal was given to Kobasew, taken away from him, and then given back. Anyway Wilson earned his 10th assist of the season.
The Avs continued to control the play for the most part and another good possession by a line of spare parts resulted in some good chances as Kevin Porter partially wiffed on a juicy rebound on the right side of the slot. Unfortunately a Dallas stick and the left big toe of Lehtonen kept the 2-0 tally from going in. Immediately after that Eric Nystrom got his hook on to give the Avs their first power play of the game. It took 30 seconds of setup before we saw an Erik Johnson bomb bounce back out to Milan Hejduk who shattered his twig trying to get the shot off. That would be the best opportunity of the man advantage. Not much happened the rest of the period and the shots favor Colorado heavily, 16-4 with Giggy only needing to make one tough save.
The 2nd period was pretty uneventful as the teams traded some possession and chances early and Dallas started to try and catch up on shots. At one point they led 6-1 in the period. Then the Avalanche's quick break-out started to break down the Dallas attack and the boys in Burgundy started racking up shots again. The Avs were also counter-punching well and were able to pick up the play after sustained Dallas possessions and rushes and carrying the puck back toward Lehtonen. Ryan O`Reilly had a great takeaway that generated some excitement and not to be outdone his former linemate Gabriel Landeskog intercepted a pass in the neutral zone that led to an excellent opportunity for Colorado. However, the bounces favored the Stars and nothing found it's way behind Lehtonen. Not to be out-done on the other end, Giguere stood tall on a Jamie Benn breakaway. After two the Avs led in shots 33-15 but still only had the one goal to show for it. Scary moment in the last half of the period as Jan Hejda seemed to catch a rut and roll his ankle while skating backward. He limped to the bench but was back out for his next shift. Similarly, Mark Fistric had to leave the ice after he was checked through the penalty box door by Galiardi, but he was back out after the ensuing commercial break.
The third period featured more of the back and forth, yet Colorado-controlled action. The Stars took their second penalty of the game after Michael Ryder interfered with Giguere as he tried to get to his crease. In what would become a theme for the period, the Avs don't do much in the first half of the advantage, but started turning up the heat in the last 60 seconds. A Lehtonen clearing attempt got turned back down low but Landeskog couldn't bury it in a prime scoring zone. The Stars managed to kill it off and got a little jump from the effort. Giguere made a good positional save on a Sheldon Sourey job and Daniel Winnick celebrated by punching his guy in the mouth to get a high-sticking penalty. The woeful Avalanche penalty kill got to make its first appearance of the game. A good not-passive PK snuffed out any Dallas hope of the equalizer and the Avalanche began the quick-passing game they employed all night. The counter-punch feel returned and Colorado generated some good opportunities on the rush but most of the game remained in the neutral zone and Dallas' end.
Just over twelve minutes into the period, Brendan Morrow took exception to a boarder-line Shane O`Brien board of Loui Erikkson. O`Brien didn't retaliate and Morrow got tagged with a penalty. Again, the first minute of the PP was pretty lackluster but the last half was electric with sustained pressure, slick passing, an O'Brien tour of the offensive zone, and eventually a goal. Landeskog took the puck on the mid boards, fired a low-percentage shot into Lehtonen's chest and a rare bad rebound dropped to the far side where a sliding Paul Stastny swipes it into the net to put the Avs up 2-0. It was Stastny's 6th goal of the season. The Avs played smart from that point on and the Stars begin to unravel, racking up 2 more penalties in the last 5 minutes. Eventually, Kari Lehtonen scooted to the bench and for a change the Avs netted the gimmie goal as Matt Duchene scores his 8th of the season with about 5 seconds left in the game. The rare 60-minute effort from the entire team (a 44 shot effort) and a strong showing by Giguere in net resulted in a Friday night home win for the Avalanche faithful.
MHH Avalanche 3 Stars of the Night
- 1 Giguere with the steady, 24-save shutout.
- 2 Johnson: Solid all night and had some great passes to start the play.
- 3 Stastny: 88% Faceoffs, 4 shots, PP Goal & now tied for 10th on the franchise scoring list.
- 1 Jones-O'Reilly-Winnik
- 2 Landeskog-Duchene-Hejduk
- 3 Porter-Stastny-Yip
- 4 Galiardi-McClement-Kobesew
- 1 Hejda-Johnson
- 2 O'Brien-Wilson
- 3 O'Byrne-Quincey
- Giguere between the pipes
- I know what tape Landy will see tomorrow. You don't try to force the play up ice out of your own corner with a couple of seconds left in the period. You eat that puck, not force a pass up the boards that ends up in the slot on a Dallas stick for a scary chance at the horn.
- It looked like the NHL switched to a SuperBall instead of a puck for most of the game... Lots of funny bounces.
- The quick-pass breakout Colorado utilized all night was very effective and executed well by all the D except Hejda who seemed to hesitate making decisions and passes. It caused some problems at times but he seemed to get better as the game went on.
- This game was Dr. Jekyll to the Hyde-esque game from the last Stars tilt.
NHL.com Recap & Highlights
Sunday Night sees the Sharks of San Jose come to town as the 8-game homestand continues.