Stop me if you've heard this one before....
Both teams came out content to simply throw some shots on net from the outside, but one of Vancouver's long shots trickled through Valramov and sat dangerously in the crease before Shane O'Brien bailed out the home squad. But just minutes later O'Brien took a completely avoidable interference penalty, sending out the #1 ranked Canuck powerplay. These are the exact bad penalties the Avs need to avoid.
On the ensuing faceoff, Kesler found himself with the puck all alone right in front of Varlamov, but Varly stood tall and made the point blank save. Great stop. That seemed to wake up the penalty killers and Vancouver never got that close again. Unfortunately, the PP gave Vancouver some jump and they began to carry the play. On one of their extended shifts in the Avs' zone, Matt Hunwick (playing is just his 2nd game) laid two huge hits on Kesler and then David Booth, who was on his way to a solid scoring chance in the slot. O'Brien take note: you can make tough, strong, defensive plays without taking a penalty. Promise.
With just over 3 minutes to play, and the Canucks oushooting the Avs 14-4, Duchene got upended trying to get the puck out of the zone which sent the Avs scrambling, which led to pretty Canuck passing, and finally a Manny Malhotra goal. 1-0 Canucks. Kevin Porter almost tied it up moments later after sneaking past Bieksa with a nice move and coming in alone on Schnieder. The Canucks' backup bobbled the puck but ultimately made the save. First period ends 1-0 Vancouver, with the visitors outshooting the Avalanche 16-6.
Colorado started the second period on the powerplay, but they really did not want the puck at all and did their most to help Vancouver kill it off easily. Zero shots with the man advantage. If that wasn't enough to help the visiting team feel warm and comfy in Denver, the Avs decided to take a too many men penalty and throw the Canucks a nice juicy powerplay bone. For those keeping score at home, that's two stupid penalties by the Avs, so they're 2 for 2 on the night. Luckily, the Avs' PK was up to the task again and killed this penalty as well, 2 for 2 on the PK. At this point, I wondered if the Avs had a shot on goal from closer than 30 feet away, but then Burrows scored on a nice patient play as the Canucks came into the zone and my lamenting shifted to the scoreboard. 2-0 Vancouver. Timeout Avalanche.
To open the third period, Ryan Wilson got whistled for a ghost roughing call. This was the first call against the Avs they didn't stupid themselves into. This was just a bad call by a ref from a bad angle. The Avs PK kept up their solid play and killed off their 3rd straight penalty. That would pretty much be the only bright spot on the night as the Avs did little to inspire much hope in this game.
O'Reilly almost got one for the Avs on the powerplay as he batted a weak backhander towards the empty net, but Schnieder recovered and dove to stop the puck on the goal line with his stick. That sparked a little Avalanche flurry and pressured Vancouver into a delay of game penalty as they scrambled in their own zone. Back to back powerplays but still no goals. When the announcer announced "1 minute left in the game" the crowd booed. Yeah, it's that bad. Kesler added an empty netter.
The Avalanche look disorganized, unhappy, and out of sync. You can feel the pressure building and a tipping point approaching. Something's got to give.
MHH Avalanche 3 Stars of the Night
- Varlamov. He worked hard, gave his team a chance, and perhaps most importantly didn't force his game. It was a solid return by Varly (who needed it), but another dismal effort by the Avs. "Effort"? Can we call it that?
- Porter. Probably the best forward of the night, with Duchene a close second.
- Hunwick, for those two beefy hits and solid all around game.
- Jones - Stastny - Hejduk
- Landskog - Duchene - Lindstrom
- Winnik - O'Reilly - Porter
- Galiardi - McClement - Kobasew
- Wilson - O'Byrne
- Quincey - O'Brien
- Hejda - Hunwick
- Scratches: Yip, McLeod
- Injured: Eric Johnson, Peter Mueller
- Hunwick and Porter both looked good tonight. It was apparent that they valued the opportunity to get in a game. Maybe if Sacco scratches everyone, then we'll finally see some team urgency out there in burgundy and blue when they all get back in a game... I'm not a "coaching expert", but I'm pretty sure that is solid gold.
- The Avs offense often seems like it is playing with no purpose. Too much individual play or a puck is just thrown to an area, not a teammate. No chemistry.
NHL.com Recap & Highlights
The Avs take a quick break to eat some Turkey on Thursday, but are back in action on Saturday when they host Edmonton at 5pm Mountain at Pepsi Center.