So tonight was the big debut of our newest Avs, Erik Johnson and Jay McClement. I think that was the only good thing about the game.
The first period pretty much went as expected: crappy. Devin Setoguchi began the scoring by taking a pass into the zone and splitting Ryan Wilson and the newly acquired Johnson for an easy goal. The Avs went on a power play when Ben Eager took a slashing penalty. Alas, it didn't lead to any points, but I did like that big shot Johnson let loose from the blueline. Shortly thereafter, Ryan O'Byrne took an ill-advised penalty (go figure, huh?) and the Sharks capitalized. After the Sharks held the puck in the zone for a good minute, the Avs got a fresh face-off. But it didn't help as Setaguchi got his second of the night with 5 minutes still to go in the first. Of course, a minute or so later, Peter Budaj - our new #1 (sigh) - attempted to clear the puck but sent it over the glass for a delay of game. Great. McClement showed why he's touted as a great PK guy, though, as he got a shortie chance early on in the penalty kill. I'd love to say that started a great roll for the Avs; I'd love to, but I can't as Ryane Clowe scored the third of the period for San Jose. Shots 17-8 Sharks.
The second was better - you know, 'cuz the bad guys didn't score or anything. Yet neither did the Avalanche. It wasn't for lack of trying, though. The Avs ended the period with 11 shots on net vs. 4 for the Sharks. McClement had the first good chance about a minute in; then Kent Huskins took a holding penalty, putting the Avs on a power play (sigh). Johnson clearly will be an asset here...when we get the rest of the PP figured out. He has good vision and a shot that commands respect. It didn't help tonight, though, as the Avs went 0-2 on the power play at that point. Dany Heatley took off on a push for the net and faced off with Johnson one-on-one who broke up the pass and negated the scoring opportunity. My friend told me that's called defense. Who knew? Stoa had the next best chance of the night but was denied by a sweet sliding save by Antti Niemi. My friend told me that's called goaltending. Who knew? Setaguchi took a roughing penalty at 12:20ish, and the Sharks killed yet another. The period should have ended 4-0, but the refs blew a call, this time in the Avs favor. Play whistled dead even though Budaj didn't have the puck frozen. Why he didn't have his pads down anyway to stop that trickling puck from crossing the line is beyond me. Despite outshooting the Sharks, I'd have to say the Avs were pretty lucky to come out of that period still only down by 3.
Halfway through what originally seemed would be an inconsequential third, David Jones took a cross-checking penalty. Not such a good choice, Jonesy, as the Sharks were 2 for 2 on the PP to that point in the night. A nice defensive face off win by McClement helped kill it, though, putting San Jose 2 for 3 on the night. Johnson had a huge hit on Mitchell at the blueline, again stopping a prime scoring op for the fish. But then, of course, Setaguchi gets his first NHL hat trick cuz that's how the Avs roll. 4-0 Sharks.
So yeah, it was another ugly loss, but there are some positives we can take from it: Johnson and McClement will help this team and .... okay, so there's one positive we can take from it. Let's not talk about the two goals and one assist that a couple of former residents of Denver had tonight. For what it's worth, though, this game solidified my opinion that this was a good trade; Johnson is the real deal, and it's hard to argue he's already our best defenseman.
- Jones, Stastny, Stoa
- Porter, O'Reilly, Hejduk
- Winnik, McLement,Yip
- McLeod, Dupuis, Olver
- Wilson, Johnson
- Liles, O'Byrne
- Hunwick, Gaunce