The Avalanche were looking to keep pace in the super-tight Western Conference race tonight in Nashville. And just two shifts in, the Avs took a huge 1-0 lead when David Jones made a beautiful inside-out move on the blueline and raced into the Nashville zone before centering Jamie McGinn hustling to the net. And, from an Avalanche perspective, that would about cover it for the highlights for the night.
One of the most consistent facets of the Avs' game this year has been the solid play of the defense. That went out the window tonight as the team made some defensive gaffes that really hurt the team tonight. Less than two minutes after the McGinn goal, Mike Fisher fired a pass attempt from the blueline to the far side of the net. The pass never made it through - instead, it deflected off of Stefan Elliott's knee and into the back of the net. About four minutes after that, Roman Jusi fired the puck on net from the point. Erik Johnson was very slow to pick up his man - Brandon Yip - and for added effect threw up a solid screen in front of Semyon Varlamov. Varly had no chance as the puck moved through (Yip was credited with the goal; I thought they later changed it back to Josi but as of now he's still the goal scorer). And late in the 2nd, Landeskog made a terrible clearing attempt from behind the net right into the center of the ice, leading to the game winner for Nashville. That wasn't the only bad clearing attempt of the night, but was an extremely costly one to be sure.
Offensively, the Avalanche didn't fare much better, putting up just 17 shots on net all night. The Avalanche didn't get much in the way of sustained pressure until late in the game. The Stastny line had the only two goals - the McGinn goal early and then a nice goal by Mueller feeding Stastny from behind the net early in the 3rd. Nasvhille was terrific defensively all night...but if the Avs are going to go anywhere this year, they are going to need a way to beat these stifling D's. The Avs did have two pucks go off the crossbar in the 3rd that were oh-so-close to tying things up. Alas, since the "H" in NHL does not refer to "horseshoes", that wasn't good enough. The Avalanche gave 3 goals away to the Preds (Nashville added an empty netter later to add to Tim McGraw's royalty check) and just did not have the offensive wherewithal to overcome that.
MHH Best Three Avs of the Night
- Varlamov - 27 spectacular saves in a losing effort
- McGinn - goal, assist, +2
- Stastny - goal, assist, +2
- Landeskog, O'Reilly, Downie
- McGinn, Stastny, Jones
- Mueller, Olver, Hejduk
- McLeod, McClement, Connolly
- Hejda, Wilson
- Johnson, O'Brien
- Hunwick, Elliott
- Strange sight midway through the 3rd with the Avs taking a key defensive zone faceoff. Steve Downie squared off to take the draw with Stastny on the wing. Downie ended up getting tossed (intentionally?) and Stastny stepped in. A bit of a head scratcher.
- Man, I do love those yellow Nashville jerseys
- No Avalanche player had more than 2 shots
- Erik Johnson left the ice after falling hard into the boards with .1 second left in the first period. He appeared to hit his face hard and also appeared to be favoring his left leg. Surprisingly, he came back late in the 2nd and finished out the game.
- Even with the injury to Johnson, Stefan Elliott had just 16:57 of ice time. He did manage to find his way on the ice for 3 of the Nashville goals however. Seriously, he needs a little break.
NHL.com Recap & Highlights
Edmonton on Saturday afternoon. Let's pretend they don't play in the NW