That felt good. The Avs ended their likely season-killing ten game losing streak in a game that had all the drama one could hope for. Players scored against their former teams and mixed it up against former teammates. It was very refreshing to actually enjoy an Avalanche game.
The Avalanche dominated the game during the first ten minutes or so. Returning from injury, it was Matt Duchene that was really pushing the play. He made quite a few gorgeous plays including an outstanding pass to Matt Hunwick who just missed scoring. It was David Jones that scored the first goal, however. Paul Stastny took advantage of a miscue by the Blues at their own blueline and stole the puck. He streaked in and passed it perfectly to Jones for the tip in. With Chris Stewart gone, I think Jones has become nearly indispensable to this team. He has really impressed me during this horrid streak by continuing to score goals as the rest of the offense floundered. Milan Hejduk scored the next goal on the power play, whacking the puck out of midair and taking another swipe at it to send it by Ty Conklin. The Blues responded well and controlled play for most of the rest of the period. They cut the Avs lead in half when Alexander Steen made a great pass to T.J. Oshie, who had whipped around Erik Johnson. Ryan Wilson had to leave his man to try and negate Oshie which left Patrik Berglund free to slap in the rebound. Pretty play by the Blues.
The second period saw a lot of rushes and open nuetral zone play but it was mostly the Blues who had any sustained offensive pressure. The highlight of the period for the Avs was killing off a minute length 5 on 3 with Hunwick and Jay McClement in the box. It was a great kill but tainted by the fact that they gave up a goal during the remainder of Hunwick's penalty. And who better to give it up to than Stewart. He did what I had visions of him doing for years with the Avalanche. Namely, parking his ass in front of the opposing goalie and tipping home a point shot. And who was it that shot that point shot? Kevin Shattenkirk. That stung, I have to say. The Avs just about managed to regain the lead at the end of the second. Shattenkirk pushed Brandon Yip into Conklin to earn himself an interference penalty. Yip took his time getting up off Conklin, giving Ryan O'Byrne a shot at an open net. A Blues defender managed to get in the way, though, and the period ended in a tie.
I was pretty nervous entering the third period and really hoping the Avs would respond to Stewart and Shattenkirk combining to score the tying goal. That they did was great to see. It did take quite a while for the Avs to score, though, and credit must be given to Peter Budaj for keeping the Avs in it. I'll be really sad to see him go if he does because, though he doesn't have the skills to be a starter, his compete level has never been in question. At any rate, if I could have picked a player to score the next goal, I would have picked the man who did. Johnson intercepted a bobbled pass and sent a snap shot past Conklin. Shortly, thereafter, Stastny restored the Avs two goal lead by intercepting another pass in the Blues zone and sending a backhand shot over Conklin's shoulder. Less than a minute later, with the goalie pulled surprisingly early, Andy McDonald pulled the Blues within one, flipping the puck on net with Stewart mixing it up in front. The Avs weathered the rest of the storm though and hung on for the win.
- The first penalty of the game was on Stewart when he tripped up Stastny away from the play. It looked like it might have been retaliatory on the replay. I'd be interested to know what they were saying to each other.
- Yip had an effective game despite not scoring. He drew two penalties and generally seemed to be getting under the skin of the Blues players.
John-Michael Liles was good both defensively and offensively with two assists. I think the acquisition of Johnson will help him since he won't be expected to go up against other team's top lines.
StefanBrian Elliott could be joining the team as early as next game against Edmonton.
- Stoa, Stastny, Jones
- Yip, Duchene, Hejduk
- Porter, McClement, Winnik
- McLeod, Dupuis, O'Reilly
- Liles, O'Byrne
- Hunwick, Holos
The Avs face the Oilers tomorrow.