Sometimes, even the most air-tight plans can go astray.
The Avalanche have the worst road record in the league this year and all of the pre-game talk by the Altitudes was how crucial it would be for the more-rested Avalanche to jump to an early start on the Dallas Stars, who played Thursday night in Los Angeles.
That worked for 34 seconds. I had just barely finished jotting down the lines in my notebook when Ryan O'Byrne backed away from Derek Roy skating into the zone, allowing Roy to put a should-have-had-that shot past Semyon Varlamov. For those keeping track, that would be the 21st time that the Avs' opponent has drawn first blood this year. Colorado has only won 6 of those games, but one of those was Wednesday night against...hey, it was against the Stars. Maybe this will work!
So, when the Avalanche fizzled on their first powerplay and then Jordie Benn banged home a rebound on the Stars' PP around the 10 minute mark - his first career goal, naturally - I was not worried. It's all part of the plan.
And then, things went astray. With just under 4 minutes left to go in the first, P.A. Parenteau fired a shot from the blue line that redirected off of Brendan Morrow's filthy mitts, right past Dallas goalie Keri Lehtonen. That goal cut the Dallas lead to one and instantly put the Avalanche right back into the game. Except for one teensy tiny small little insignificant thing: the refs waved it off. David Jones was jockeying for position with a Dallas defender (probably that ugly-faced Stephane Robidas) to the right of Lehtonen and well outside of the paint. Jones did make some contact with Lehtonen, but didn't appear to impede the goalie at all. The only thing that stopped Lehtonen from making the save was Morrow's deflection. It was a shitty call and a tough break for the Avalanche. And it totally derailed the Avs' perfect plan.
At the start of the second period, the Avalanche were all huddled around the bench to try to come up with a Plan B and were so focused on this that they neglected to notice that the puck had dropped. Ryan O'Byrne had been using his stick to draw x's and o's into the ice and was therefore unable to stop Jamie Benn from skating out from the corner and to the front of the net, where he promptly bowled over Semyon Varlamov with at least as much force as Jones' contact earlier, except that a) this was in the paint and b) was not called. With Varly wearing Benn on his shoulders, Eric Nystrom poked the puck home to score [spoiler warning] the winning goal. The game was not yet 21 minutes old, but it was over.
Oh, there was more stuff for sure. It just didn't mean anything. Cody Eakin buried a beautiful cross-ice feed from Jamie Benn to give the Stars a 4-0 lead and the rest of the night off to Varly. The Avalanche began their obligatory too-late comeback attempt with Ryan O'Reilly feeding Parenteau for one of his patented one-timers and early in the 3rd John Mitchell made an amazing defensive play to intercept the puck from Benn. He not only prevented a breakaway but turned the puck around to Stastny who fired a 5-hole shot at Lehtonen that somehow found daylight. Thankfully, before anyone could get too excited about a comeback, Jaromir Jagr ended it with a wraparound shot that bounced in off of Stefan Elliott's skate.
There was some late physical stuff when 6'2 Brenden Dillon refused to dance with Cody McLeod but then apparently tried to start something with Chuck Kobasew before Shane O'Brien jumped in. Way to look like a douchebag, Brenden!
MHH Stick Taps
- Jones, Duchene, Parenteau
- Mitchell, Stastny, Palushaj
- McLeod, O'Reilly, Kobasew
- Bordeleau, Olver, McGinn
- Hunwick, Johnson
- Hejda, O'Byrne
- O'Brien, Elliott
Landeskog was a scratch with a torso injury. Other scratches were Hejduk and Zanon.
- I don't know if it's a result of his PP time at the point, but I have noticed that O'Reilly seems to be taking a LOT of long-distance shots.
- Pretty typical night for O'Byrne, IMO. For much of the game, he played strong, smart, physical hockey (7 hits). But then he slips up and it costs the team - he was on the ice for 3 Dallas goals tonight.
- With Hejduk and Landeskog sidelined, McLeod wore the 2nd A tonight.
The Avs host Vancouver tomorrow (Sunday)