The Crosby/MacKinnon story line was beat to death all week long, and tonight wasn't any different. After the first period, they had their first "head-to-head" graphic of the night, comparing an 18-year-old rookie to a 26-year-old, 8-year vet. Oh, ok.
Chapter One - Kill, kill, kill
Avs got into penalty trouble early as Nate Guenin got a stick up on Pascal Dupuis less than a minute in. The good guys were up to the challenge, though, and kept Crosby & Co. off the board. The Avs thought that wasn't fair, so PA Parenteau did a little whicky whacky, tripping up Robert Bortuzzo for the Penguins second power play in less than five minutes. Big moment in the PK came when Jamie McGuinn tied up Sidney Crosby to prevent an easy tap in on a wide-open net. Despite killing both penalties, momentum was all Penguins after that.
Just a wee four minutes later, Cory Sarich was called for a delay of game penalty in one of those stupid ass over the glass calls. When is the NHL going to make that like an icing call and put the face off in the offending team's zone rather than give them a penalty? They originally did that it icing because it was delaying the game. It's just stupid. (/rant over) Fortunately, the Avs killed that one, too, but not incredibly easily. The kills certainly sapped some of their energy. Tired legs and poor decisions were inevitable.
With 6:16 left in the period, Nathan MacKinnon popped the Avs' cherry and got the first shot on net. Alas, there wasn't much sustained pressure, the only real solid presence in the offensive zone coming off the sticks of the fourth line. What could have been an Avalanche power play as the Penguins were headed off for too many men Steve Downie negated with an elbow, giving the Penguins their fourth power play in the first period. Another penalty killed, and with other-worldly play by JS Giguere, the Avs escaped with no goals against.
Chapter Two - Neener, neener, neener
Things swung the other way as 1:36 into the second, the Avs got a power play of their own. Despite some awesome pressure, the Avs weren't able to net one. Gabriel Landeskog ruined the final 16 seconds of the power play, taking a hooking penalty in the corner. Pretty weak, but a call is a call. Landeskog made them pay, though, as he picked up the puck coming out of the box and hit a quick snap shot over Marc Andre Fleury's shoulder. Five power plays for the Penguins, yet it was the Avs up by one.
Just over halfway through, Colorado got its second power play of the game with Ryan Wilson drawing the interference penalty on Craig Adams. Despite being highly uneventful, it gave the boys some energy, and we saw some of the best offensive threats of the game thus far. It didn't really slow the Penguins down, though, and it took more stellar play by Jiggy to keep Pittsburgh off the board.
Second head-to-head comparison was a highlight of MacKinnon losing an edge so that Crosby was able to do a nifty little move to avoid him. Apparently, that was an example of Crosby schooling the pup.
More penalty trouble for the Penguins put the Avs back on the power play after Chris Kunitz's stick nailed McGuinn right in the face. Some great pressure ensued, but a lazy line change netted the Avs a too many men penalty. The teams played four-on-four hockey for the remaining seconds in the period. Avs went to the locker room holding on to their one goal lead.
Chapter Three - Jiggity, Jiggity, Jiggity
3:40 ticked by in the third when Erik Johnson wanted to get in the box, too, and did so with a boarding incident. The seventh power play chance for the Penguins came up empty, however. The play of the night came after some exciting offensive flurries for the Avalanche turned into a two-on-two for the Penguins the other direction. Johnson blew a tire, giving Kunitz a clean shot mano-a-mano with Giguere. Jiggy stood him up, flashed his glove, and asked him, "Are you looking for this?"
The Avs pushed the play all period long, and although most stats would say the Penguins played the better game, that third period showed exactly what this team can do when it wants to.
Matching penalties were assessed at 55.5 seconds left in the game as Guenin bear-hugged Jussi Jokinen and Jokinen went for the springboard championships. The period wound down four-on-four, although play stayed in the Avs zone for most of that time. But it wasn't enough because Jean-Sebastien Giguere is a god.
MHH Three Stars
1. JS Giguere - 34 saves for yet another shut out on the season. Old? Weak? Yeah, ok.
2. Gabe Landeskog - nabs the only goal of the night
3. Jan Hejda - quietly went about his biz with 6 blocked shots, 4 hits, and 27:32 TOI
Honorable Mention: Alex Tanguay - all over the ice, good defensive play and some nifty looks on net
Scratches: Barrie, Holden, McLeod (suspension)
- Crosby had 9:11 of ice time in the first period alone, ending with 26:40 on the night.
- Patrick Bordeleau, on the other hand, played for 1:52.
- Avs are undefeated (5-0) and have outscored opponents (14-4) on the road
- Avs only won 37% of face offs.
- Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon are from the same town, were both first overall picks, and are kind of similar, you know?
The Avalanche get a bit of rest as they fly home for a Friday night game against the Carolina Hurricanes.