The Avs traveled south to Big D to test their stellar road record against the Stars and their stellar overall record (and 8 out-of-the-last 12 home record against Colorado). Something had to give, right? Some familiar narratives abound as they headed to the Lone Star State: shiny new lines up front, some tweaked defensive pairs in back, a hot goaltender at the other end of the ice (Kari Lehtonen), and Semyon Varlamov in net for the Burgundy and Frostbite Blue. Throw in Dallas' explosive blueline production and a lack of Steve Ott and you have the makings of what should have been a pretty good game. The Avs and their daddies were instead treated to a schizophrenic tilt featuring bad defense, worse goaltending, and TONS of power play goals.
The Colorado fourth line drew first blood as Silent Jay McClement followed a Kyle Quincey shot/dump to the net and snapped home the rebound to give the Avalanche the 1-0 lead. That was Square Peg's first goal and point of the youngish season. I think Lehtonen was somewhat locked to the post as he was in a V-H position pretty early for a play originating on the low boards (IMO, obviously). Shortly thereafter we got a delay as they had to repair some cracked glass that resulted from an Avalanche shot. They did get a chance to replay the horrific Nicklas Grossman injury though, so good times! When play resumed we got to see a really good shift from the new top line and then an even better shift from the 4th liners.
In their rush to see the other end of the ice for a change, the Stars took a high-sticking penalty committed by Radek Dvorak (sorta it really was Joakim Lindstrom getting Quincey in the chops). We're at the 12-minute mark at this point and the fans are treated to a 2009-esque passing drill that took about the first 3/4 of the PP time, but when they finally shoot AT the net, the Avs nearly score. When they get it back in the zone after the panic clear, we see the game's debut of the Matt Duchene spin-o-rama behind the net. He then curled around to the top of the left circle and double-pumped a wrister through Lehtonen's pantaloons. 2-nil good guys. At this point Colorado led 10-2 in shots. The Stars managed a few shift in front of Varly, but Colorado answered and drew a penalty in the last three minutes of the period. More passing and a bad hop over Ryan O'Reilly stick as he's holding the point resulted in a great short-handed chance for Dallas. However, Quincey played the 2-on-1 PERFECTLY to break up the opportunity. It managed to give Dallas some jump and after escaping a decent chance at the end of the power play, they got about 45 seconds of pressure at the other end before Dan Winnik's follow-through caught Adam Burish in the mug. No call on the play though (rightly). The next shift down the ice and Stephane Robidas decided to exact revenge by skating the width of the ice with his elbows up before connecting with T.J. Galiardi's chin literally 3 feet in front of the ref. Well thought-out plan-of-action there. The Avalanche had only about 10 seconds of PP time but still managed a great chance off the o-zone face-off. Unfortunately Duchene can't finish into a wide-open, nay YAWNING! net after he follows Quincey's blast to the crease. Dallas dodges a bullet at the end of the first and the shots finish up 13-3 for Colorado.
The second period started with the Avs PP quickly establishing possession in the zone and getting some great chances with hard work from both units as they trapped the Stars' PK in the zone. Nothing much came from the man-advantage though. Some back and forth chances occurred before Gabriel Landeskog sidestepped a check and nearly scoreed over Lehtonen's right shoulder. The next possession down the ice by Dallas ended when Shane O`Brien dumpsEmmy-winner Vernon Fiddler into the net for a somewhat make-up-call-ish penalty. Their second rush into the zone after a good clear resulted in both defenseman (Ryan O`Byrne and Jan Hejda) backing up and the inevitable clear shot from Loui Eriksson handcuffed Varly. He and O'Byrne combined their Wonder Twin powers to put the puck into their own net. 2-1 Colorado with just over 14 minutes left in the period. I really liked Burish's bush-league bullshit ass-check into Varly's face after the whistle, goal-horn, and commercial break. Douche-itude isn't restricted to just Steve Ott in this lockerroom apparently. Dallas started to dominate in possession as they got several good chances in the Avs' zone. At the end of one of those, O'Byrne set a pick into Varly and the Stars got another power play opportunity. A pretty good PK was displayed and the Avs even got a couple of chances out of it before killing it off. The first shift after the PK turned into a sustained scoring opportunity as the top line did some good work (especially Duchene). However the shot advantage for the Avs had started to dwindle somewhat. Then Cody McLeod took an ill-advised boarding penalty at the offensive blueline. Sheldon Souray didn't waste much time before smoking one past a screened Varly. 2-2 with seven minutes left in the period. The Souray love-fest had been dampened to this point, but now the slobbering starts in earnest.
Burish cheap-shot Paul Stastny behind the net to a chorus of silence from the refs. Stastny slowly made his way to the bench after losing his lid, but didn't miss a shift. Landeskog had a golden opportunity on the other end, but Lehtonen made a series of clutch saves. Immediately back down the ice saw Hejda miss a hip-check on Michael Ryder. He found Fiddler who caught David Jones in popcorn mode before beating a sliding Varlamov. Three unanswered goals in the period now. 3-2 Dallas. Not long after, Jones got pegged for a Holding the Stick penalty to give Dallas their 4th consecutive power play. The first possession in the zone and an Alex Goligoski point shot found its way past a screened Varly. Noticing a theme? 4-2 Dallas on their third power play goal OF THE PERIOD.
Just as I'm thinking about turning this game off, recap be damned, the top line struck from a bad angle as newly-minted left wing Matt Duchene scored from the corner after Jamie Benn "cleared" a rebound right to his stick. 4-3 Dallas with just over 2 minutes remaining in the period. About 30 seconds later, Stastny got rubbed out behind the net but put a centering "shot" off a defenseman and the goalie for the tying goal. 4-4. Holy schizo, Batman! This was a crazy period and it wasn't over. Hejduk nearly scored around the one minute mark and shortly thereafter Duchene turned on the jets but gets tripped on his way to the hat-trick goal, drawing a good penalty at the end of the 2nd period. Other than the Dallas commentators not being able to tell the difference between Quincey and Ryan O`Reilly, nothing much results from the abbreviated power play. Shots after two: Colorado 27, Dallas 14.
Colorado started the 3rd on the PP with over a minute left on it, but wasted some time before getting it set up. A couple of decent chance for the Avs and one for the Stars tightened some backsides in the arena. The Thirst Line jumped over the boards on the rush after the Stars miss and Winnik picked up a soft rebound in front of the net to put the Avalanche back on top, 5-4. We were then treated to some fun as Dallas channeled their inner thug and Colorado defended their crease and bench apparently. The bad blood continued as O'Byrne tapped Fiddler in the back about half as hard as Stastny took in the 2nd and got another penalty called. An aggressive penalty kill (according the knowledgeable announcers, of course) almost worked but just as the penalty expires another point shot hits the post and the rebound went right to Eric Nystrom's stick for the put-back. 5-5. The penalty kill looked like frozen donkey entrails covered in feces at this point.
The "fun" continued as Milan Hejduk got called for a high-stick off of the ensuing center-ice face-off. That was the sixth penalty for the Avs since the start of the second period for those keeping track at home. A good showing by the PK resulted in a return penalty as Mike Ribeiro tripped McClement to cancel the man-advantage. Some 4-on-4 action ends but the PP is short-lived due to the highlight-real trip down the ice by Duchene. He clowned (their words, not mine) the entire Stars team and buried the wrister for his first career hat-trick. 6-5 Avs. Still over 10 minutes remained in the period at this point. The teams then traded some good possession shifts each way and Toby Petersen missed a tying chance down low. The next thing really worth mentioning was Jamie Benn's attempted castration of Stastny at the 4:30 mark. Shortly thereafter Benn tipped a shot going farside on a screened Varlamov after Robidas hammered the drop pass. Six all at that point.
Sacco answered with the Thirst Line who got a couple of good looks at the net, mostly notably by Daniel Winnik. Daley tried to rough up Landeskog (who stood up for himself), straight punches Winnik in the mouth and everybody pairs up for hugs and affirmations. Daley got two for panic-punching, Winnik took a seat in the box for receiving his love taps. So the third period ended with some more 4-on-4 action. 12 goals weren't enough to settle it, so to OT they went.
Overtime started with the rarity of 3-on-3 hockey and lots of open ice. Duchene immediately generates some excitement but can't cash in. Stastny dribbled one on-net, but couldn't get it to go. Hejduk got a prime shot from in front, but hit Lehtonen in the logo. Everybody then got in on the near miss action as Lindstrom, Hejda, and Johnson all get opportunities but can't finish. Possession swung the other way and Eriksson finally got an opportunity on the other end. Just as he walked out from behind the net and looked to shoot, Hejda picked Varlamov's right hand/foot out of the way and the pass across hits a sprawling Erik Johnson's glove and goes in backside with just over a minute remaining in the extra frame. Stars win 7-6 in a crazy one as the Avs escape with a point in a game they probably shouldn't have been in after the second period. That or they should have focused on some defense as well as generating some O with the new lines.
MHH Avalanche 3
Stars Avs of the Night
Shiny and new and full of goals. Both for..... and against.
- Duchene Stastny Hejduk
- Landeskog O'Reilly Winnik
- Lindstrom Galiardi Jones
- McLeod McClement Kobasew
- Johnson Wilson
- Quincey O'Brien
- O'Byrne Hejda
- WhoTF is Ian Kinsler? Thanks for dressing up...
- Memo to Dallas announcers: The Duke is not from Finland, the St. Patrick Day joke was lame, I have a hard time believing that the Stars are still adjusting to the "new" NHL, you suck if you don't know Fiddler's resume after watching him in PHX six times last year, your grasp of offsides is only slightly more prescient than you understanding of what a follow-through is, and your riveting analysis on how good teams don't take lots of penalties was FAN-tastic.
- Landeskog took another big hit carrying the puck into the zone. Please don't die in your rookie season, Gabriel.
- Did anybody else see O'Byrne get shot with that sniper bullet at the beginning of the third? Not his best game.
NHL.com Recap & Highlights
Back home to face Calgary on Sunday, the 6th. Puck drops for Family Night at 6 p.m. Mountain.