The Colorado Avalanche came out weak against the Florida Panthers in the first period. The Panthers scored an even strength goal after several stretches of extended possession. A particularly egregious turnover by Wilson led to Brandon Pirri alone in the high slot with the puck. Florida scored again in the first, this time off the rush and Aaron Ekblad got his first NHL goal. The Avs continued to play tentatively through the end of the first.
Momentum swung toward Colorado about 5 minutes into the 2nd period. Following some extended Avalanche pressure, Florida took a high sticking penalty and then a minute later a delay of game for shooting the puck out of the rink. The Barrie scored from the point on the 5 on 3 and Landeskog followed it up on the 5 on 4 going high to Luongo’s blocker. Iginla put the Avs ahead with his first Avalanche goal by making a steal in the neutral zone and then playing pitch and catch with Alex Tanguay on the rush. Sean Bergenheim tied it up late in the period deflecting a shot from the point after extended possession in the Avs zone.
The 3rd period was back and forth as each team took the momentum at different points, but neither team could manage a goal. Colorado created a good scoring chance in the final minute, but couldn't get it past Luongo.
Overtime was short and spoiled by a tripping call on Brad Stuart. Brad Boyes scored on the power play to end the game, 3-2 Florida.
I’m not sure I like the man-to-man defense with the way the Avs are losing face offs this season. In this defense, the defender is always behind the play and chasing. If you’re losing defensive zone draws, that’s a lot of chasing. It’s difficult to force turnovers when you are trying to close the gap on your man and it makes for easy passing as the lanes are not intentionally clogged. I think part of Colorado’s 3rd period woes so far this year is from tired legs after spending 2 periods chasing in the defensive zone.
The Avs defensemen were bailing out early through the first period in the offensive zone. This was giving the Panthers easy zone exits because the gap to the defenders was huge. It looks like they fixed that to a degree in the second because the Avs did better controlling the neutral zone through the second and that’s when they did all of their scoring.
I’ll be doing the recap in 5 minute blocks. Note, the times I quote are clock time, not elapsed time, so they won't be exactly what you see in the box score.
Avs start out with better possession, but FLA seems to be getting the better scoring chances. It looks like the defensemen are bailing out early from the blue line, making it difficult to keep the puck in the offensive zone. As the 5 minute mark approaches, FLA is getting the better of possession and chances. At the 15:16 mark, Brandon Pirri scores off a turnover. Wilson throws the puck up the wall under light pressure and it gets picked off at the top of the left circle, centered to a wide open player in the high slot. Berra was helpless.
Florida continues their momentum from the last block and is getting chances. The Avs are having a difficult time connecting passes and when they do, the puck seems to be bouncing. Wilson made one good hit in the first block in the neutral zone, goes for another here and not only whiffs, he puts himself out of position. When the Avs do have the puck, they seem to be looking for deflections on longer shots.
Florida continues to hold the momentum with strong possession and good chances. With 6:57 remaining Aaron Ekblad scores his first NHL goal. Florida is getting repeated odd-man rushes. In one scary sequence, Berra denies a goal with the pad on the glove size, then slides out of the goal while the puck bounces around. He ends up facing the net while looking at the puck. Fortunately he’s able to jump on the puck and get the face-off.
Avs 4th line gets pinned in the zone for 25 seconds after losing an O-zone face-off and failing entirely to slow the Panthers through the neutral zone. Avs seem to gain possession several times, then turn it back over by trying to chip the puck out of the zone. With 21 seconds remaining there is a mad scramble in the Colorado crease. Berra never quite gets the puck covered, but they get lucky with a quick whistle. Either the ref lost the puck or the net came off the pins. The 4th line finishes the period by failing to get out of the zone.
Second period starts much as the 1st ended. Avs lose the opening face off, and Florida gets possession. In one sequence the 3rd line gets the puck and Briere makes a lap of the O-zone. He dishes to Wilson, but it results in only a weak un-screened shot from the point. Easy save. Wilson hits someone in the neutral zone and hurts himself. He’s headed for the locker room (shoulder). Duchene has easily been the best player on the ice. At about 16:50, he turns on the jets and wins a race to beat an icing call. He centers the puck up the slot and Tanguay gets a chance. Defense is still bailing out of the offensive zone early, preventing possession. There’s way too much chipping the puck up and out of the zone.
Momentum begins to shift toward the end of the last 5 minute block. It’s about even at the beginning of this block and starts to swing toward the Avs. The Avs are beginning to take control of the neutral zone and Florida is having a hard time getting clean entry to the offensive zone. At this point, the shots are 5 to 1 for Florida in the second, but that's about to change. O’Reilly gets a good tip off of a point shot and Luongo makes the save. It’s the first SOG for the Avs in the last 5 minutes, but now the Avs are getting some sustained zone time. Penalty on Florida. High sticking at 10:56 (Boyes). The powerplay starts out slow and disjoint and doesn't create a shot until almost 40 seconds in. Barrie is shown on bench flexing a sore shoulder, seems OK as he comes out for the next shift. Penalty for Delay on Florida after they shoot the puck out of the rink. 5 on 3 for 1:01.
First shot on the 5 on 3 takes 23 seconds. This is quickly followed by a howitzer by Barrie from the point. Goal Avalanche (Barrie 5v3 PP) at 9:09 in. This came while 5v3, so power play continues. 30 seconds later, Landeskog takes a pass from O’Reilly in the right corner and walks out in front of Luongo and goes high blocker. Goal (Landeskog PP) at 8:38. Avs are now in control of the neutral zone. Florida is having difficulty holding possession past the red line. At 8:01 Scottie Upshall puts his hand on the puck at the face-off dot and goes off for a face-off violation. Avs again on the powerplay. This time, the Avs have good puck movement, extended possession, several shots, but no goals. Then, just before the 5:00 mark, Iginla makes a steal in the neutral zone, moves it up to Tanguay, and then drives the net. The Calgary connection comes through and Iginla scores at 5:19 on a tip in the crease.
Everyone is now getting in on the act. The 4th line gets a good cycle going and holds possession of the puck for an entire shift. The 3rd line comes on and makes a steal in the neutral zone for a chance. At the 3:47 mark, Cliche shows he wants to stay in Denver and gets in a fight with MacKenzie of the face-off. Fight was more or less a draw. Evidently Florida takes some energy from it because the ice starts to tilt their way. Another defensive zone turnover (an ugly one) extends a Panther's possession, and turns into a Florida goal with 2:19 remaining (Bergenheim on a deflection). Florida ends the period on the penalty kill after a hooking call on Bergenheim (0:58). The 3rd period will start with the Avs on the power play.
There’s not a lot of team play on this power play. Duchene makes some noise coming down the boards, but no one is in front of the net. Power play ends with a whimper. Florida takes some momentum from the penalty kill and start controlling play. Briere goes off for tripping at 17:55. Avs are super aggressive on this penalty kill and keep Florida from setting up in the offensive zone until the last 30 seconds of the advantage. The Panthers manage to get off one good shot, but Berra is there for the save. The puck is cleared, and the penalty ends.
When the Avs were successful in the second period, they were controlling the neutral zone. No longer. Florida has lots of possession and is getting some shots. These are not particularly strong scoring chances, but they add up as the defense wears down. The 4th line is out at the 11:40 mark and they have a really strong shift with good possession, some hits, and end it with an offensive zone face off after a SOG. Roy has started to play with his bottom 6. Talbot is out with Mitchell and McGinn. Mitchell drives the puck into the corner, forgets what he’s there for, and turns it over. It becomes a rush the other way with Berra making a difficult save in a scramble in the crease.
Strong play by the 4th line in the last block earned them another shift, and they proceed to turn the puck over. Berra makes the save off the rush. It’s becoming clear that neither team is playing to win this game now. Colorado has lined up 4 players on the defensive blue line as Florida advances the puck. In kind of a bizarre twist, Bjugstad drives hard to the net with the puck. Berra meets him at the top of the crease, stops the puck, and sends Bjugstad flying. Penalty… on Bjugstad for goaltender interference. Let’s just call it an interesting call. On the ensuing power play, the Avs have lots of pretty possession, but forget that they need to shoot to score. Penalty ends with no dangerous chances.
Florida manages to get 7 skaters out on the ice at the same time while the puck is in play. The linesman evidently has extra fingers because there was no call. Florida has a clear trip behind the Colorado net. No call. I think the refs are making up for the interesting goaltender interference call. At the 1:00 mark, the Avs turn up the heat and get good pressure and some good shots, but nothing of substance. We are headed to overtime.
Avs come out flying. MacKinnon sets up Tanguay for a good chance, but the puck bounces on him. O’Reilly and Duchene are also dangerous and keep the puck in the offensive zone. The puck rolls down into the Avs end and Stuart gets his stick caught up in somebody’s skates. Penalty. Power play goal Florida (Boyes). Game over.
Avs 3 Stars
Matt Duchene (terrifying Florida defenders all night)
Reto Berra (4 goals seems like a lot, but he gave no softies, and made some big stops)
Tyson Barrie (pretty goal on the power play and good puck movement, particularly in the 2nd)