The Colorado Avalanche were decimated by the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight 5-1 at home. People keep asking which team is the REAL Avalanche: the high-octane team that scored 17 goals during the recent 4-game winning streak, or the inept children who scored once on this ugly two-game losing streak. I think the answer is: both. The Avs are both of those options simultaneously. That. Is. Frustrating.
On the first shift of the game, Vitale took Johnson into the boards violently, leading to an extended scrum just 21 seconds in. Luckily the testy McGinn - Olver - Jones line started the game and came to the defense of EJ. This set the tone for the game: physical and fast, with Pittsburgh coming out on top.
Joe Sacco then sent out O'Reilly's line to go toe-to-toe with Malkin's line and on their first shift against each other, Landeskog leveled Malkin who was playing soccer with the puck at the Avs' blueline. The league's leading scorer took offense to the rookie's tender greeting and Evgeni's retaliation lead to matching minors to Downie and Martin. When you have 79 points in 56 games, you get away with some things.
Then things went bad. About 8 minutes in, Aaron Ashram scored off a big slap shot that he had about 30 feet to walk into. 1-0 Pens. Less than 2 minutes later the Avs got caught again giving Pittsburgh too much room and Staal found a man alone in the crease and Engelland tipped the puck past Giguere. 2-0 Pens. McLeod tried to spark his team and dropped gloves with Ashram (who was 2/3 of the way to a Gordie Howe hat trick with 45 minutes to go), but it didn't generate the desired effect. Shots in the first, 14-8 Avalanche. Hits 14-8 Penguins.
Bad got worse when Malkin made it 3-0 five minutes into the second period. James Neal's tip-shot banged off the post and right to Malkin who was given with a wide open net by Hejda. The Avs got a chance with a powerplay, but right as the man advantage ended, the puck squirted out of the Pittsburgh zone and onto the stick of the man exiting the penalty box, Richard Park, who found himself on a break-a-way. 4-0 Penguins.
Giguere got pissed and punched Matt Cooke in the face twice (note: Matt Cooke ALWAYS deserves it), resulting in another Colorado penalty. I kind of stopped caring at this point. Hunwick scored parked right in front. More penalties. Steve Downie got gang raped in front of the Pens' crease. More Pittsburgh odd-man rushes. Steve Sullivan potted an empty-netter.
The game was played at lightning speed, but the Avs just couldn't keep up with the Penguins relentless skilled attack. It was ugly.
MHH Best Three Avs of the Night
- Gabriel Landeskog, 1 Assist, 7 hits
- Matt Hunwick, 1 goal
Mark Olver, hustle
- Landeskog - O`Reilly - Downie
- Duchene - Stastny - Hejduk
- McGinn - Olver - Jones
- McLeod - McClement - Mueller
- O`Brien - Johnson
- Hejda - Wilson
- Hunwick - Elliot
- The night began by honoring Gentleman Rob Blake. Peter Mueller wore Kevlar.
- I'm pretty sure Mike Haynes called Marc-Andre Fleury, "McFlurry" at one point. Hungry Mike?
- Derek, I'm never covering for you again.
NHL.com Recap & Highlights
The Avs finish off this back-to-back set when they travel to Minnesota to take on the Wild for a quick home-and-home series that could make or break the Avs' playoff chances.