For a while, the game was boring. Then it got exciting. Then it got boring again. Then it got explosively maddening. Then some stupid things happened and the Avs lost 4-3. The top guys ranged from acceptable to awful. So it goes.
Calgary got a very quick one from Sean Monahan, whose shot was saved (or hit a post, there was some contention and I never honestly saw the replay) but rebounded off of Jamie McGinn's skate and back in. Nope nope nope.
There were honestly not a lot of shot attempts in this one. So it happened that there was nothing interesting to report until, with 14:23 remaining in the first, Erik Johnson drew a slashing penalty. Duchene had a good chance but was stuffed. On the next shift the Power Play VCR was saved! Nathan MacKinnon, in tight, ended up poking it in just in front of a crashing Nick Holden and just like that, the game was tied at 1.
I really like what MacKinnon is doing on the power play, by the way. Rycroft laid it out during the first intermission. He hangs out at the post, Stastny draws some attention to himself and then works the puck to MacKinnon down low. The rookie then either tries to roof it near post, tries to jam it, or hits the defenseman who is streaking to the other post. The penalty kill can either allow it and hope to make a save/prevent a pass, or they can devote a whole killer to shoving MacKinnon out of there and add more chaos in front of the net.
Play opened up some after the goal and each team found their way into some good scoring chances, most notably for the Avs when Duchene and Talbot played some super sexy give and go. With control of the puck in the offensive zone, though, Calgary took an extremely well-advised penalty for too many men on the ice with 6:17 to go (foreshadowing). MacKinnon took up residence in his corner of the crease and as the entire PK box collapsed around him he fed the crashing Barrie, who... missed high. Damn that would have been hot. It was okay though, because the Super Rook found himself alone in the slot next shift and fired home another power play goal. The Avs took a 2-1 lead and MacKinnon had two goals in each of the last two games. Boom. Ez.
The ref fell down a minute later and the Can audibly laughed, as is tradition. Well done everyone.
It didn't take :30 into the second period before Paul Stastny took a pretty necessary hooking penalty. It was that or an all-alone Backlund in on Giguere. Thankfully that Flames power play could be generously described as "mildly atrocious" and the Avs had the better chances shorthanded as they killed this one off easily.
With 15:00 left the Stastny line generated a rush which saw Landeskog bat the puck out of mid air, but Ramo was up to the task. The Avs managed a few good chances, including one from Bordeleau and one sprung from a really sick pass by Holden that found its way to Talbot and McGinn. Giguere was tested just as often, but the Avs did a good job limiting their chances for the most part to shots from distance.
Then Hartley sent out Westgarth to get his garbage on, AND HOW.
- Duchene gets borderline boarded. That gets called about half the time.
- McGinn and Talbot both take exception, which results in a 3 on 2 for the Flames
- who quickly realized, oh right, we're fucking Calgary, and turned the puck over. Duchene gets the puck back and has the stick slashed right out of his hands (no call)
- and as Calgary goes the other way, Westgarth literally waits by the Avalanche bench, looking for a ref to catch him, before cross-checking noted tough guy Jamie McGinn in the mouth.
This was honestly a turning point in the game, exactly like Desjardins's spearing Mitchell in the testes was against San Jose, and that can not. continue. being. a thing. Please imagine piano desk there.
YKNOW WHEN THE RATS GET OAT THERE, AND THEY START TA RUN AROUND AGAYNST YOUR TOP GUYS, MATTY DUCHENE, AND JAMIE MAGINN TOO, GOOD ONTARIA BOYS, YA GOTTA DEFEND EM, BUT YA HAVE. TO KEEP. YER COMPOSURE ON THE ICE! HOW MUCH TIME?
Westgarth drew 2:00 for general douchebaggery, which could have been any of a number of penalties really. The resulting Avalanche power play was terrible and generated nothing. Duchene and McGinn had a really nice chance right after though, McGinn cutting in and being fed a pass across the seams that he deflected just wide.
Fresh out of a TV timeout, the Avs sent their fourth line out for a defensive zone start and Giguere covered the puck. So they kept them out there and Joe Colborne tipped home a point shot to tie the game at 2. Extremely questionable player selection. Then with 2:22 to play Jiri Hudler scored backwards between his legs just trying to jam at the puck because of course he did. It was an extraordinarily horrible goal through a point blank five-hole. Giguere has to seal the ice better than that. 3-2. It wasn't long before the Avalanche PP went to work again, as Colborne was called for having his stick near Ryan O'Reilly when the latter stepped on the puck, but the Avalanche seemed content to make it into the intermission without any further incident and didn't do a thing with their advantage.
Roy juggled his lines to start the 3rd, hoping to get some offense from 11/9/90 and 92/26/29. It took them 7 minutes to generate a shot on goal. Can we take a moment to address that? It isn't acceptable. This isn't San Jose or LA or Chicago or St. Louis clogging the zone. It's the goddamn Calgary Flames. Nathan MacKinnon could literally skate through all of them if he wanted to (foreshadowing). And it wasn't like the Avs suddenly started playing any better or anything, but finally they got the puck into the zone and Paul Stastny buried one from what I'm officially naming the MacKinnon spot. Landeskog's assist extended his point streak to seven games and gives him 100 career points, so congratulations there. May your hair forever dazzle.
The Flames tried to strike back quickly but Giguere stood tall. That or Kevin Westgarth remembered as he shot the puck that he was Kevin Westgarth. With 8:32 to go though, Jamie McGinn took a penalty for impeding TJ Galiardi. Calgary killed their own power play by passing and passing and passing. The game remained tied with less than 6:30 to go. Calgary iced the puck. They won the faceoff and went the other way but MacKinnon forced a breakaway through two defenders, only to be thwarted by a Ramo poke check. That play was absolutely highlight reel crazy you guys. There was no Avalanche team out there tonight: It was Nathan MacKinnon and the Pips.
With 5:00 remaining the Avs pulled an absolute braindump and tried to play defense with six guys. You could hear Pierre McGuire screaming at Doc Emerick all the way from... wherever he is. I don't know who should have come off, or not come on, but that... ugh. Unacceptable again. The Flames had another two minutes on the man advantage. They didn't need all of it as Sarich and Benoit got caught chasing; Hudler fed Cammaleri in the slot who didn't miss. 3:30 to play, 4-3 Flames.
Roy elected to pull Giguere earlier than convention, with 1:45 to play, a move I'm usually a fan of, giving the Avs some time with six skaters legally. Didn't matter. The Avs had their flurry but hardly managed to get anything actually on net.
MHH 3 Avs of the Game
1. Nathan MacKinnon (2G, incredible awesomeness). Can't be any doubt about that one.
2. Paul Stastny (1G, 2A).
3. Gabe Landeskog (100th career point).
You May Have Missed:
- That Ryan O'Reilly broke a nail or something celebrating Stastny's goal. He put his hand into the celebration then recoiled and babied it all the way to the locker room. He returned to the game. (Late night update: He had X-rays done too. Woof.)
- That Nathan MacKinnon took a late Erik Johnson shot off the leg and, as of this writing, has gone for X-rays.
- That there were a grand total of 44 shots in this game (hurk).
- That Jan Hejda, who is usually outstanding this year, was absolutely demolished in terms of possession, his Corsi rel at -31.8% (a number generally regarded as somewhere between That's Awful and Holy Fuck). He started the defensive zone all of twice. Cory Sarich and Andre Benoit ended up with the most D-zone draws among defensemen, which is odd to me, and they responded by being on ice for 5 even strength goals against between them (and none for). Blegh!
The homestand continues on Wednesday as the Ottawa Senators pay a visit at 7:30pm.