So much for the winning streak. The Avalanche had a pretty good effort tonight, but came up just a little short against a strong performance from Leafs' goalie Jeff Reimer.
As has been the case for much of the year, the Avalanche came out flat tonight. During the first intermission, the Sportsnet guys showed a big photo of each of the Avs with a shot on net...all 3 of them. And one of them wasn't really a shot on net - it was a Dan Winnik pass that Dion Phaneuf skillfully batted into his own net. One the other side of things, Nikolai Kulemin had two 1st-period goals for the Leafs, including one with just seconds left in the period (Ryan Wilson and Brian Elliott: you guys might want to wait until the horn sounds to stop playing. thnks).
The 2nd period had a lot more action, not the least of which was the big open-ice hit by Mike Komisarek on Mark Olver. Olver fell hard to the ice and had to be assisted off. He did not return. There was no penalty on the play. I'm sure I'll be flogged for this, but I thought it was a good hit (although I can't keep track of all the league's stupid rule changes). It was definitely unfortunate, though, as Olver has been one of our better players. I'm not sure if it fired up the Leafs or not, but they scored not long after that after capitalizing on a Matt Duchene turnover and some defensive-zone overskating by Ryan O'Byrne and John-Michael Liles. Thankfully, on an Avalanche PP later in the period, Ryan O'Reilly banged home an Erik Johnson point shot to cut the lead to 3-2. Ryan Stoa was a big factor in that play as well, as he actually tied up Reimer's stick on the play. Stoa's play in front of the net has been fairly solid with the Avs. Unfortunately, that's been about the only spot on the ice he's had any positive impact at all. Late in the 2nd, there were several big scoring chances by the Avalanche, but Reimer came up big. At the other end, Joffrey Lupul had a big scoring chance but Erik Johnson made a great play to deflect the puck out of harms way.
In the 3rd, Brandon Yip finally had an impact on a game. Unfortunately, it wasn't the good kind. He was flagged for interference deep in the Toronto zone. The replay didn't pick up the penalty very well (it was just off-frame), but seriously, how do you take that penalty? Yip has taken some terrible penalties this year. And, of course, this one led to a PP goal by Phil Kessel - the eventual winning goal.
Midway through the period, Johnson's blistering point shot led to another goal. This one bounced off Phaneuf right to the stick of Matt Duchene. Duchene banged it home to give him a point in 6 straight game. Meanwhile, Johnson assisted on each of the Avalanche goals tonight. That was it for the heroics, though. Cody McLeod missed a wide open net earlier in the period and Reimer made some big saves throughout to give the Avalanche yet another 1-goal regulation loss (I don't know how many it is, but it seems like a lot).
On the plus side, the Senator's Craig Anderson out-dueled Henrik Lundqvist in the shootout (Wolski and Svatos both had failed attempts), moving the Avalanche back into 2nd in the tank race.
- Olver, Duchene, Winnik
- Stoa, Stastny, Hejduk
- Porter, O'Reilly, Jones
- McLeod, McClement, Yip
- Wilson, Johnson
- Liles, O'Byrne
- Gaunce, Holos
- The Sportsnet guys commented on the woeful Pepsi Center attendance this evening. The joke's on them: 14,364 is good for us!
- Gaunce played in place of an injured Matt Hunwick (first we've heard of this?). If Gaunce goes back to Lake Erie tomorrow, he'll play against the Toronto Marlies on Saturday. [EDIT: Apparently, Ryan Wilson was injured in the game, so that's probably not going to happen]
Peter Budaj came out to start the 3rd period with Brian Elliott still in the dressing room (equipment issue?). Unfortunately, Budaj gave up what would ultimately be the winning goal during his brief stint before Elliott returned, so he was saddled with the loss.
The Avalanche head to California for the final time this year, visiting the Kings on Saturday and the Ducks on Monday.