Heading into tonight's game against the Blue Jackets there was no question the Avalanche were one of the hottest teams in the NHL since the trade deadline. They have won their last 4 games, including a 5-0 win over these same Blue Jackets back on February 24th.
With Gabriel Landeskog in the box for holding Rick Nash, the Blue Jackets wasted very little time in making the potential Calder Trophy candidate pay for it. Just over 30 seconds into their power play Nikita Nikitin fired a slap shot from the point that deflected off Erik Johnson's shin pad and past Semyon Varlamov. 1-0 Jackets just under 13 minutes into the 1st period.
Not even two minutes later Jamie McGinn was called for hooking. The Avs absolutely needed this kill if they wanted to try and gain any sort of momentum the rest of the period. No question the Avs came out completely flat and need a spark, a good solid penalty kill would go a long way gaining some momentum. The Avs got the kill they desperately needed, but didn't really seem to get much "jump" from the kill.
I'm not too sure what was going on with the Avs in the first period, but am hoping they snapped out of it heading into the second period of action.
As the second period got underway the Avs did appear to have a little bit more energy than they ended the first period with, but not by much. I'm still confused, did the Avs think the Jackets were going to come out and lay down and get walked all over? That must've been what they thought, but it's far from the case.
The Avs inability to get the puck out of their defensive zone thankfully only cost them on Fedor Tyutin's slap shot from the left wing half boards that beat Varly clean on the short side. That's definitely a shot that Varly has to stop; however, his defensemen are partially to blame for playing too soft on the shot and not getting at least a stick in the shooting lane. It was Tyutin's 5th goal of the season that put the Jackets up 2-0 with just under 5 minutes to play in the second period.
The Avs severe lack of "fire" in the game so far lead to Gabriel Landeskog dropping the gloves with Jack Johnson for his first NHL fight. He didn't fare so well in the fight, but it seemed to at least start a fire under the team. Steve Downie started to get that "angry" look on his face. Then Cody McLeod and Derek Dorsett had a "mild" exchange of some pleasantries that continued into the penalty box. The fire would need to be carried over into the third period if the Avs wanted to have any chance of coming back in this game.
The Avs may not have started the third period with a lot of fire, but as the period went on they started creating a lot of good scoring opportunities. Unfortunately Steve Mason decided he wanted to start playing goalie...and really well. In the process he earned his first shutout of the season. Saturday's game against the Penguins just got even bigger.
MHH Avalanche 3 Stars of the Night
- 1 Semyon Varlamov, 26 saves on 28 shots, made huge saves when he needed, team was flat in front of him.
- 2 Gabriel Landeskog, Dropped the mitts for his first NHL fight in an effort to try and light a fire under the team's butt.
- 3 Jamie McGinn, 2 hits and 2 shots on net in 13:41 of ice time in his first game in the Unipron.
- 1 Landeskog-O'Reilly-Downie
- 2 Duchene-Stastny-Hejduk
- 3 Jones-Olver-McGinn
- 4 McLeod-McClemet-Mueller
- 1 Hejda-Wilson
- 2 O'Brien-Johnson
- 3 Hunwick-Elliott
- 1 This was Jamie McGinn's first game with his new team and seemed to still be a little out of sorts and never really looked comfortable.
- 2 Semyon Varlamov played well enough to get the team a win. Made really big saves when he needed too, his team didn't give him a whole lot of help tonight.
- 3 Gabriel Landeskog dropped the mitts in his first NHL fight. We will call it a draw.
NHL.com Recap & Highlights
The Avalanche welcome Evgeni Malkin, Marc Andre Fluery and the red hot Pittsburgh Penguins into the Pepsi Center Saturday night.