This game was a symbol for the Avalanche's season: a lack of consistency and finishers, bad luck and even worse bounces, and amazing performances by back up goaltenders. There were times when the Avs seemed in control of the play and a goal was a breath away; then there were others that saw the team running around, just trying to stay alive.
Unlike a lot of games this year, the Avalanche got a number of power play opportunities. Unfortunately, they weren't able to cash in on any of them. Shortly after their first failed attempt, Ryan O`Byrne went to the box for holding, followed closely by David Jones for tripping. Like the last time these two teams met, the boys killed the 5-on-3 fantastically, due in no small part to Semyon Varlamov. The guy did everything he could to get the win tonight, making some incredible saves in the process. Unfortunately, his teammates didn't help him out on the scoreboard.
The lone goal in the game came during the second Avalanche power play. Matt Hunwick bobbled a pass at the blue line, and Chris Higgins scooped up the puck for a breakaway, scoring a short-handed goal with three minutes left in the first.
The boys really turned it on in the third period, dominating play during the final ten minutes. Shots peppered Cory Schneider, but he was just too good. With an empty net, the Avs controlled the puck as the final minute and a half counted down. At one point, the Canucks were sure to get an empty-netter, but Ryan O`Reilly did his best Varly impression to block the shot.
Unlike recent games against Vancouver, the Avalanche did not outplay their opponent. In fact, there were times when it looked like they'd already given up. But they ended up fighting for that goal until the last second, and I really think it portends positively for the future.
MHH Best Three Avs of the Night
- 1 Semyon Varlamov - Besides being spectacular in net, I think he would have scored the tying goal if Sacco had made him the sixth player on the ice for the empty net. His Patrick Roy impression during the second was both impressive and heart-attack inducing.
- 2 Mark Olver - Beast Mode Activated. The kid has no fear. 3 shots on net, 2 hits, 1 blocked shot and a fight with David Booth. All things considered, he did pretty well for his first NHL fight.
- 3 Ryan O`Reilly - Guaranteed that guy isn't sleeping tonight as he replays this game in his head, angry at himself for not hitting twine. He played nearly 24 minutes (only Erik Johnson played more) and had 6 shots on net.
- 1 McGinn - Stastny - Jones
- 2 Landeskog - O'Reilly - Downie
- 3 Mueller - Duchene - Olver
- 4 McLeod - McClement - Hejduk
- 1 Johnson - Hunwick
- 2 O'Byrne - Hejda
- 3 Wilson - O'Brien
- 1 David Jones is one unlucky dude. He had a team high of 8 shots on net and just couldn't get past Schneider.
- 2 Sacco changed up the lines a bit during the game; in the third, we saw Olver replace Downie on the O'Reilly line. Personally, I liked it. I suspect we'll see that again soon.
- 3 The Avs had a horrid night in the face off circle, winning only 38% of the draws.
NHL.com Recap & Highlights
The boys head to Calgary next, facing off another bubble team that is all but mathematically eliminated.