The Avalanche got off to a good start, getting the first three shots of the game on an early first period power play. Despite a number of good chances on the power play they were unable to convert some pretty passing into dangerous shots. The best near chance came on a centering pass from Paul Stastny which handcuffed an unsuspecting Nathan MacKinnon, who seemed to expect Stastny to shoot the puck (shouldnt he know better by now?).
The Avalanche gave up the first goal of the game just a few minutes later when Tyler Seguin sprung Rich Peverley for a breakaway. Peverley beat Varlamov with a head fake and wrist shot under the glove. It was the first goal the Avalanche have surrendered in the first period this season. The Avs, who had trailed in a game only 4:52 seconds to this point in the season would finally get the chance to play from behind early.
The fourth line responded to the goal against with a good shift in the Dallas zone, during which Patrick Bordeleau nearly stuffed a loose puck in the crease past Dallas' Dan Ellis. The momentum appeared to shift back in favor of the Avalanche as Matt Duchene followed with a dangerous chance in the high slot on his next shift, but Dan Ellis made the stop with his shoulder. The game seemed to settle down a bit, but with just under 9 minutes left in the period, the Stars misfired on a sloppy breakout and generously provided Matt Duchene with a perfect centering pass near the left faceoff dot. Duchene took advantage of the Dallas mistake and wired a shot high for his 4th goal of the season.
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The rest of the first period was relatively even and it looked like we would head to the locker room with a tie, a good offensive shift from the third line would give the Avs a lead with just 7 seconds to go. PA Parenteau centered the puck to Nathan MacKinnon who was tied up by a number of Dallas defensmen, but Jan Hejda collected the puck along the blueline and fired a slapshot low towards the net, deflecting off the Dallas defense before trickling in. Thats already the second goal from an Avalanche defenseman this season.
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The Avs penalty kill looked superb again early in the second period as they worked to kill of a bizarre, diving tripping penalty on Erik Johnson. Towards the end of the penalty kill Ryan O`Reilly picked off a D-to-D pass at the point to start a 2 on 1 with Jamie McGinn. After drawing three Dallas defenseman towards him, O'Reilly floated a beautiful backhand saucer to Jamie McGinn who fired a hard wrist shot on net. A few seconds later Varlamov made his best save of the penalty kill, stopping Tyler Seguin with the left pad.
At the end of the penalty kill, Gabriel Landeskog made an amazing stick move coming out from behind his own net to spring the Avalanche on the rush. As the Avs entered the zone Alex Tanguay had his stick broken by a Dallas slash. No call.
The Avalanche penalty kill continued its excellent play later in the period when Nathan MacKinnon was called for hooking. The Avs had a number of early clears and won the majority of the special teams puck battles, but with just 1 second left on the power play, the Stars finally cracked the Avalanche's perfect penalty kill. The Stars established a good cycle down low and when Ryan Whitney's centering pass was slowed up by Cory Sarich, Cody Eakin was first to the puck with a hard shot which beat Varlamov.
Eakin's goal marked a number of firsts for the Avalanche: their first goal surrendered on the power play, their first time surrendering two goals in a game, and their first time surrendering a lead to an opponent. Not bad for 5 games in.
Nathan MacKinnon made a quick attempt to regain the lead with a hard one timer just moments after the goal, but Dan Ellis gave the rookie centerman nothing to shoot at.
The game seemed to settle for a few minutes before all hell broke loose with 7 minutes left in the period. First Semyon Varlamov made a series of three outstanding pad saves when Gabriel Landeskog turned the puck over to give Dallas an odd-man rush. Moments later Jamie McGinn fanned on a sure goal of a beautiful cross ice pass from Nathan MacKinnon. The Avs continued to work the puck around the Dallas zone with authority, eventually drawing a penalty on the play. With the extra skater on, the Avalanche were forced out of the Stars zone. PA Parenteau gave Matt Duchene at center ice on the delayed penalty where he deked around a spinning Dallas forward, then sidestepped a Stars defensman before firing a laser of a shot to the top shelf. 3-2 good guys.
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I want to point something out about this goal though, because this is what happens when you have a goalie who is making big plays. The Avs gave up a huge chance, but when Varlamov made those three saves he got his team flying all over the ice. Following that chance the Avs had almost 1:30 of straight puck possession in the Dallas zone. The way they cycled the puck on that sequence was a thing of beauty, and showed the kind of offensive dominance that this team is capable of. It was that good. But they never get the chance to work that offense unless Varlamov makes the stop here, this game could have just as easily been 3-2 Dallas late in the second.
Nathan MacKinnon took his second penalty of the night, hooking Shawn Horcoff in front of an open Avalanche net. On the power play Tyler Seguin had a chance at an empty net in the low left slot (he really likes that spot) but John Mitchell made a perfect poke check to deny the shot. With 20 seconds left in the period, the Avalanche took matching slashing penalties when Semyon Varlamov sack tapped Shawn Horcoff (I wonder who taught him that *coughcough Roy). Varlamov made another fantastic save on the penalty kill when Ryan O'Reilly was caught out on the ice with a broken stick.
On his first shift of the period Gabriel Landeskog finally started to show some life offensively, first firing a hard slapshot from the point then another shot from the face-off dot. His line possessed the puck for the majority of the period's first two minutes and generated a number of solid chances.
I'm not sure what Roy said during the intermission, but the Avalanche came out and absolutely dominated this game in the early part of the third period. 5 minutes into period the third line had a monstrous shift in the Dallas zone which included a near breakaway for Jamie McGinn, a number of dangerous point shots, and a spin-o-rama tuck attempt by Nathan MacKinnon.
The officials, seeing how the Avalanche had just dominated the blues for 5 minutes straight, decided they ought to help out the guys in white by calling an incredibly soft hook on Erik Johnson and sending the Stars on their 4th consecutive power play. The Avs PK struggled a bit more on this opportunity and Varlamov bailed them out with 4 very impressive saves, and while they gave up more dangerous opportunities than normal, they continued to do an excellent job of clearing the puck when they managed to get possession. Also a note to Tyler Seguin: You are not Steven Stamkos, stop trying to take all your shots on the power play from the same spot. Varlamov knows your game, and he's having none of it.
Midway through the third period PA Parenteau made an outstanding, diving play on the back-check to prevent Cody Eakins from firing a wrist shot from in close on Varlamov. A few shifts later Landeskog had another good offensive chance, taking a cross ice pass from Alex Tanguay and firing the puck into Dan Ellis's chest. With seven minutes left in the game we saw the problem with hybrid icing as Matt Duchene clearly won a race with the Dallas's Robidas and had the play blown dead. Linesman should really give Duchene the benefit of the doubt on those, he's faster than everyone.
This back and forth game tightened up considerably in the closing minutes of the third period. Roy once again leaned heavily on his top 2 lines, who did a good job of out-possessing the Stars and quickly getting the puck out of their own zone. Ryan O'Reilly had an excellent chance in the final 5 minutes when Matt Duchene floated a backhand saucer pass to O'Reilly across the crease, who's shot appeared to hit Ellis on the bottom edge of his mask.
Ellis made his best save of the night with 2:10 seconds to go in the third period. Ryan O'Reilly stole the in the neutral zone and was pulled down on the near breakaway as he fired a backhand shot wide of the net. With O'Reilly and Ellis tied up in the net, the puck came free to Steve Downie who took a shot on goal. Despite laying on his side, Ellis was able to get the glove up and make the save. The Avalanche however, did not let up, as Landeskog had a point blank chance on ensuing facoff, trying to out-wait Ellis on the side of the Dallas net before firing the puck into the goalie's chest.
Nathan MacKinnon, who hasn't seen much ice time at the end of close games got his last shift of the night with just under 2 minutes to go in the game, he's quickly earning more of Roy's trust. With less than a minute left on the clock Gabriel Landeskog raced down the ice to negate an icing call and kill at least a dozen second off the clock. The Avalanche never got any real chance at the empty net goal but did a good job of holding off the Stars attack until the last play of the game. With just 2.3 seconds left in the game Paul Stastny won the faceoff but a bad bounce sent the puck into the crease where Semyon Varlamov stoned Alex Chiasson on a point blank one-timer.
MHH Three Stars
1. Semyon Varlamov: Despite letting in twice as many goals as any game this year Varlamov still made 39 saves including a number of beauties which kept his team in the game.
2. Matt Duchene: 2 goals and it could have been more. Big props for scoring his 200th point at just 22 years old.
3. Jan Hejda: Scored his first goal of the season and played an all around solid defensive game with a team high 23:18 on the ice.
Honorable Mention: Andre Benoit (22:51 TOI), Ryan O'Reilly (3 takeaways and a few great chances), Gabriel Landeskog (2 takeaways and 5 shots on goal), Nathan MacKinnon (involved the whole game, his line was the most dominant in this game and he picked up another assist).
O'Reilly - Duchene SLAP FIGHT!! - Downie
Landeskog - Stastny -Tanguay
McGinn - MacKinnon - Parenteau
Bordeleau - Mitchell - McLeod
- Healthy Scratches: Holden, Barrie, Cliche
• We finally got to see the Avalanche play from behind early. Worked out pretty well.
• Something that will get buried in all this early season success is exactly how good Jamie McGinn has been. Another 2 shots and 4 hits tonight with some excellent penalty killing.
• Patrick Roy tied Mario Tremblay's record for best start to a coaching career. He has a chance to beat it in Detroit on Thursday.
• Mark Rycroft thinks Nathan MacKinnon is faster than Matt Duchene
• Patrick Roy mentioned both rebound control and gap control in the postgame presser
The Avs take on the hated Red Wings Thursday. It's the only time the Red Wings will infect the Pepsi Center this season, so you can bet "The Can" will be rocking.