The Vancouver Canucks were 15-0-2 in their last 17 games against Colorado before tonight's battle. That's an avalanche of a stat, and it only got worse tonight as Vancouver handed the Avalanche their third straight loss, by a score of 3-0.
Inauspicious start to the game until a nice hip check on Cody McLeod spurred #55 into brawl mode. McLeod searched for something to punch and his fists finally found Weise, #32 for the Canucks. McLeod got in some early punches, and Weise did a stand up job himself, in what was ultimately a placid scrap.
The Canucks' big off season acquisition Jason Garrison, brought in to create some offense on the back end, potted his first of the year (on the 'Nucks first shot of the night) after a strong forecheck forced the Avs into a breakdown scramble. 1-0 Canucks.
The much maligned Avalanche Penalty Kill then got a chance to make us all cringe after Tyson Barrie (inserted back in the line-up in place of O'Brien and Hunwick - why??) turned the puck over and then promptly took a penalty to make a bad situation worse - or if you're a silver linings type, he hooked the guy to prevent a full on break-a-way.... that he caused in the first place.... Fortunately, Varlamov made some big saves to keep his club down just 1.
With about 5 minutes to go in the first, pint-sized Mark Olver took the puck strong to the net, unafraid of anything, and got a good scoring chance out of it. THIS. The Avs need more of THIS. Not just taking the puck strong to the net, but playing with purpose and urgency rather than waiting to see what happens - or whatever it is Sacco is preaching.
The second period started with the carry over of an Avalanche (#29th ranked) power play. You can guess how that went. Then Vancouver took a cue from the Avs' play book and took an unnecessary penalty in the offensive zone, but easily avoided having to work too hard to kill that penalty as well. Not to be out done at their own game, the Avs quickly took a stupid penalty of their own in the offensive zone (at least I think it was the O-zone, the Vancouver feed never showed the replay as they were too busy being fascinated with Bieksa's funny bone getting poked the play before). Luckily anemia is the dish of the night in British Columbia and the Canucks came up short as well.
With under 5 minutes to play in the 2nd, Greg Zanon couldn't keep the puck in at the blueline and that sprung Lapiere up ice. Lapiere wristed a quick shot 5-hole to beat Varly. 2-0 Canucks. Both goals seemed a bit soft, but Varly was pretty much let down by his teamates in both instances as well.
The Avs found themselves on a 5-on-3 after Kobasew drew a first penalty with good hustle, and then Tanev boarded Parenteau to give the Avs the two-man advantage. Vancouver took their timeout to eat some orange slices and prep for the difficult kill. Yeah, it wasn't that difficult (Burrows singlehandedly stopped two Avalanche non-chances by himself). This is when you have to score if you're the Avs, but who is going to step up? Anyone? Bueller??
Two Lake Erie stars opened the third with a good cross-ice pass from Sgarbossa to Barrie for a one-timer that Loungo was able to stop. Haven't seen an Avalanche cross ice pass in the offensive that led to a shot in....well, last season maybe?
McLeod took a blatant and dangerous high stick to his eye that was unforgivably not called (he was on the puck), and to add insult to injury the refs gave McLeod a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct when he let them know just how bad they are at their jobs. Nice. A guy is a hair's-width away from being blinded, and you punish him for it. I don't blame McLeod at all here. He had every right to be incensed. Good news: Avs killed the penalty. Better news: Cody McLeod can still see.
Another Avalanche penalty later, Hejda fails to clear the puck which leads to the Avs out of position and an easy tap in for Kassian. 3-0 Vancouver. With the exception of a few shifts, the Avalanche wilted after that 3rd Vancouver goal and allowed the home team multiple chances, rushes, shots.... like the Avalanche and their effort tonight, it wasn't good.
MHH Best Three Avs of the Night
- Not so much
- McGinn - Duchene - Parenteau
- Mitchell - Stastny - Jones
- McLeod - Sgarbossa - Hejduk
- Bordeleau - Olver - Kobasew
- Johnson - Wilson
- Hejda - O`Byrne
- Zanon - Barrie
- Scratches: O'Brien, Hunwick
- Injured: Landeskog (Head, leg), Downie (knee)
- In his NHL debut, rookie Michael Sgarbossa looked a bit tentative, as is to be expected when called up the the big show, but he seemed to settle in as the game wore on, and his hands flashed a few moments of potential brilliance, but my jaw never dropped. Eyebrow raised inquisitively impressed maybe, but that's about it.
- The Avalanche looked like an AHL team tonight - and not just because 4 of their players on the ice were recent Lake Erie regulars.
- You could argue that the Avs poor play could be attributed to their missing 3 key offensive players, but the Canucks were missing Kesler and Booth, so that pretty much voids that discussion.
NHL.com Recap & Highlights
The well-traveled Avalanche visit Alex Tanguay and the Calgary Flames tomorrow night to mercifully finish off their 4-game road tour, and enjoy their first back-to-back set of the season. We've heard plenty about the Avs' young legs giving them an assumed advantage in these types of scenarios this shortened season, let's see if that dog will hunt.