Before the game starts I have to say I have changed my outlook. I want the guys to play a good game, stay healthy and gain experience. Next year, they will never want to go on this stretch again. This experience will change them. But tonight they try to change it for the season.
Brandon Yip is the healthy scratch and Ryan O`Byrne is still out with the facial laceration. We were told he'd be out 7-10 days and tomorrow will mark the one-week anniversary of the scary incident. I'm looking forward to seeing him in his full face shield. With Yip eating nachos, Philippe Dupuis gets to give his waist a break and join the lineup. I have to say I'm pretty pumped about seeing him back on the ice, I don't think he deserved to be benched those two games.
Also the Avalanche start Brian Elliott in net. I'm starting to wonder what is going to happen in the off season with the goalies. Peter Budaj is a known commodity, and they know that he can mentally handle being the backup. With him there seems to be no ego at the title that comes with the ice. However, Elliott's start has not been what the Avalanche were hoping. How nice would it be if Elliott could turn it around and have an amazing end of season and get the number one next year and play like Craig Anderson did last year? Yeah, pretty Darn amazing. But as it is will the Avs stay with Boods or go with Elliott?
This is the Avalanche's first game since the deadline and I thought it showed. They did lose the game, but the way they played was so much sounder. They played a very cohesive defensive game. Elliott had a great game and the defense helped him out as much as they could. But San Jose is good and they just won the most games in February in the history of the Sharks.
Early in the game David Koci crashes the net and gets a decent chance. I am starting to enjoy his play more and more. The fact that he gets little ice time isn't on him, it's on Sacco and he should be getting more if he keeps playing like that. Five minutes into the first a save was made by the Avalanche and the play was stopped, but Elliott had no idea where the puck was because it was inside Ryan Wilson's pants. Cody McLeod and Jay McClement are working very well together and having a good couple of shifts. I know everyone loved Stewart and Shattekirk, but I really like the pick up of Jay McClement. I really like it.
During the first period, the Avalanche get to go on a power play (how awful is it that I wrote PK in my notes?) because the Sharks wanted to hold Liles' stick. A startling stat: the Avalanche are still tenth in the league on their power play. Matt Hunwick takes a shot from the point but it does no damage. Jonas Holøs is also taking shots from the point, but his don't go on the scoreboard either.
Less than ten minutes left in the 1st and Liles is seen talking to a trainer for his hand. (Turns out it's either nothing or very little).
Ryan O'Reilly is playing very well so far. He has caused a few turnovers and is making strong plays defensively. Paul Stastny is playing a strong physical game and checking. The Avalanche, in general, are playing a very physical game as they have for the last few games. They are trying to change their identity it seems, as they are no longer so "easy" to play against physically. But alas, their physicality leads to a penalty and an angry Liles goes to the box.
On the PK, Daniel Winnik gets puck possesion and sends it out of the Avalanche zone. The Avs get some decent short handed chances. When was the last time the Avalanche scored a short-handed goal? But the main thing is that they killed the PK. After one period the game is even at 0 and the shots are 5-9. It's a start.
During the second Ryan Stoa goes to the box for holding and the Avalanche kill off the penalty and manage to get as many shots on net as the Sharks. The play is pretty even during this period between the two teams.
Hunwick has been playing really well. I think he's been having good games lately, he has poor descision-making skills once in awhile but they are getting better. As a whole I think he is a far superior player than what he was when he first came to the Avalanche. The whole team has been playing a strong defensive game. Kevin Porter and Matt Duchene have had the best chance so far, but cannot convert. McLeod is throwing his body around and lays into Wellwood. Stastny gets a penalty for retaliating to being hit in the head, but the Avalanche kill it off as well.
Duchene is having his best game since being back from the hand/wrist injury. He's having a great game. Going into the third the game is still tied at 0.
At the begining of the third the Avalanche go onto a Power Play because Wallin was holding a stick. And guess what? Erik Johnson was able to convert on it! Yes, the Avalanche take the lead. Now can they hold that lead for longer than a minute? Interestingly this is Erik's 7th goal this season, 2nd whilst a memeber of the Avalanche, and both have been unassisted and in the third period.
Elliott is having a great game and so are the guys defensively. And with less than three minutes left in the third the Avs are unable to hold their lead. A great tip in by the Joe Thorton gets the game tied at 1. But the Avalanche get a point, and head into overtime.
[As an aside: Can I mention that I did the other recap where the Avs got a point?]
The OT was not enough to decide the game and so the Avalanche and Sharks lay it on the line and go to a shootout. None of the Avs are able to score and so the lone Shark to score, Ryan Clowe, becomes the game's hero.
Some things to take from the game? The Avalanche played a very good defensive game. They played very, very well and deserved more.
Ryan Stoa - Paul Stastny - David Jones
Kevin Porter - Matt Duchene - Milan Hejduk
Cody McLeod - Jay McClement - Phil Dupuis
Daniel Winnik - Ryan O`Reilly - David Koci