Well folks the puck is down in St. Louis annnnnnnd penalty kill time as Duchene goes to the box for a non-existent interference penalty. The Avs did a good job of killing off the St. Louis penalty. Although the Blues maintained possession for most of the kill, they struggled to actually generate any shots on goal or quality scoring chances. As I'm looking for things to write about this first period, the clock just keeps ticking and nothing is happening. 10 minutes down, shots are 3-1 for the St. Louis Blues. Snore... The Blues have done a good job so far establishing a cycle in the Avs zone, but the Avs defense has done very well to keep them at the edges of the zone and prevent shots towards the net. On the other side of the puck, the Avs are very hit and miss in getting the puck out of their zone but playing strong hockey in the neutral zone.
Finally, with 9:00 to go in the period this game opened up a little bit (something happened!), as Erik Johnson made a beautiful deke through three Blues players for a mild Avalanche scoring chance. Seconds later Jaden Schwartz flew up this boards and shot the puck harmlessly into Varlamov's chest from far away. Yay "action." The first great scoring chance for either side came 1:30 later when Joakim Lindstrom caught a loose puck in front of the Avs' net and fired a slapshot over Varlamov's head (was that really Lindstrom?).
After several long, excruciating shifts in the Avalanche zone the Blues scored a very flukey goal when an attempted chip in bounced off Matt Duchene's leg and straight to the stick of Vladimir Tarasenko. With the Avalanche defensemen in full retreat to pick up the puck along the endboards and the forwards still trailing, Tarasenko was all alone to wind up for a big slapper from a few steps inside the blueline. The puck may tipped off Nick Holden and changed direction to beat Varlamov under the glove. 1-0 Blues. What a weird, bad bounce goal to give up after long stretches of Blues' domination which should have earned them a more "traditional" goal. That's hockey for ya.
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Roy responded to the poor start and goal by immediately putting the Avs' 4th line on the ice. They were dominated in their own zone and in the ensuing panic, Tyson Barrie hooked (well, kind of) Blues forward Magnus Paajarvi and sent the Avalance back on the penalty kill which would last most of the rest of the period. With 10 seconds left Vladimir Tarasenko nearly earned his 2nd goal by standing in one place, 3 feet from the net, deking his stick back and forth, and not getting touched, harassed, checked, or otherwise molested by an Avalache defenseman for what seemed like an ETERNITY. Varlamov broke form, flailed about, and kept the puck out of the net. As the Avalanche went to clear the puck Tyson Barrie was "definitely not" tripped behind his own net before getting the puck up ice to Cody McLeod for a near breakaway. For Cody, what started as a 1-on-1 with breakaway potential quickly morphed into a 1-on-2 because McLeod is pretty dang slow. McLeod tried to repeat Tarasenko's goal with a slapshot up high, but nearly fell over on the attempt and fired wide. As a good former teammate (and in order to pad his SV% stats) Brian Elliott slid sideways to stop the shot, and the Avalanche were credited with their 2nd shot on net with 1.5 seconds left in the period.
Shots 5v5: 2-7
Corsi 5v5: 11-4
SHORT HANDED CORSI: AVALANCHE 1 - BLUES 0
Suck my short handed corsi Blues.
Here's what War On Ice has to say about it:
And here's what I have to say about it:
Minutes 20-40 of Something Resembling Hockey
The Avalanche came out swinging in the second period and doubled their shots on goal in the first 2:30 of the period, including one very dangerous chance from Jarome Iginla, who chased down a John Mitchell shot off the boards and nearly tucked it in at the right post. The Avalanche picked on Elliott's left pad again moments later, when Tyson Barrie sent a hard, low slapper for the right post. Elliott was good on both saves and reminded the Avalanche that they should elevate the puck moving forward.
Moments later Ryan O'Reilly made a beautiful behind the back pass to Matt Duchene who dodged St. Louis defenders in the high slot and fired a backhand shot past Elliott and off the post up high. Ryan O'Reilly chased down the puck and nearly found Duchene again in front, but the puck was deflected by a St. Louis defenseman. With the Avalanche gaining their first momentum of the game, Patrick Roy sent the Avalanche's 4th line out on the ice. Cody McLeod broke his stick and the 4th line was promptly pinned in their own zone for several good shots from the Blues. The high point of the shift came when Marc Andre Cliche made a good hit to separate Schwartz from the puck, took the puck behind his own net, then with NO PRESSURE, weakly backhanded the puck up the boards to the stickless Cody McLeod and gave the Blues another chance. This madness has to stop! Go get another stick! The Avalanche successfully killed off the "my stick is broken" 5-on-4 when Varlamov smothered the puck.
A few minutes later the Avalanche earned their first power play of the game on a very light call (the third of the night) when Brad Stuart had his stick "chopped" out of his hands. The Avalanche struggled to hold the offensive blue line on the power play and didn't create many chances, the best of which was a Nick Holden slapshot from the point (going wide) which Elliott caught in the glove. One observation here, it seems to me like the Avs defensemen are significantly less mobile on the power play this year. Where is Nick Holden pinching in on the back side for a tap in? I don't know, none of the defensemen ever seem to leave the point. What say you MHH? Am I crazy here or did something change in the power play setup? While the Avalanche are still struggling to get much going, it's worth noting the significant improvement they've made so far in this second period. 10 minutes through the Avs are outshooting the Blues 6-4. More of that please.
11 minutes into the period we saw exactly, the number one biggest problem with this Avalanche defense. Poetry in motion here. Brad Stuart made a strong play in the defensive zone to strip a St. Louis Blues' forward (Jaskin I think) of the puck, then turned, took three strides up the halfboards, and weekly chipped the puck to center ice. No forwards were open, Stuart was unwilling to skate it, and to top it all off, he didn't chip the puck far enough for the Avalanche to make a line change. Just awful by the entire 4th line and 3rd pairing, and it resulted in another 45 seconds of Blues possession and 3 additional shots against by my count. Following this shift, the Blues started to take control of the game again with a number of fast, aggressive shifts in the Avalanche zone and some challenging shots for Varlamov, who stood tall to the onslaught.
The Avs showed small signs of life with just under 6:00 to play, when Matt Duchene led the team out on an odd man rush up the left side. Instead of driving the net, driving wide down the ice, or looking for a dirty goal down low, Duchene turned, held, and telegraphed a one-in-a-million corner-to-corner pass for nearly 4 seconds before attempting that pass, and predictably sending the Blues the other way with the puck.
After the commercial break, the Avs' third line came out onto the ice to teach the top six how scoring is done. Alex Tanguay, John Mitchell, and Dennis Everberg all made their presence known in the crease and Tanguay made a slick pass to the point for Erik Johnson. With three Avalanche forwards within striking distance of the net, Johnson fired the puck on net and created a juicy rebound for Alex Tanguay, who was unable to beat Brian Elliott.
Matt Duchene's line came back onto the ice moments later, so let's see if they learned anything. This time Duchene carried the puck deep on the left side before telegraphing his centering pass to O'Reilly. That pass was picked off by a stick but the Avalanche recovered the puck. Duchene then took Bouwmeester's stick away with a lift and attempted another pass to the same spot past the now "stickless" Jay Bouwmeester, but Bouwmeester easily deflected the puck back into the corner with his skate. 1 shift later MacKinnon went back to his bread-and-butter move, driving the left side, pulling up just a step inside the blueline and making a pass. MacKinnon actually made a very nice drop pass to McGinn, who started to drive further down the left side, then changed his mind and attempted a tricky, no look pass to the far-side defenseman. Unfortunately for McGinn, there was no Avalanche defenseman on the point. Good zone entries followed by no shots, turnovers, and self clears make me
FACEDESK FACEDESK FACEDESK
The Avs followed that turnover parade up with another strong shift in the Blues zone from the third line, including a wrap around attempt from Dennis Everberg. With 40 seconds left in the period the Duchene line committed another terrible turnover in their own zone which saw Vladimir Tarasenko take a BOOMING slapshot from the high slot, which Varlamov shrugged away up high. The Avs responded quickly, as Erik Johnson and Cody McLeod went 2-on-2 with the Blues defense. Johnson made a great move to stay parallel and on-sides with McLeod, before stepping behind the forward in order to A) create a screen and B) create space between himself and the Blues defense. Johnson popped out from behind McLeod and fired a good shot on net. McLeod went digging for a rebound, but was unable to squeeze the puck past Elliott with two Blues defenseman tight on his back.
All in all, this was a hugely improved period of Avalanche hockey and as a result, an improved viewing experience for all.
2nd Period Shots: 12-11 Avs!
2nd Period Corsi: 22 - 22
5v5 Stuff: I don't feel like doing subtraction but it was much better!
In the intermission interview, Erik Johnson said numerous times that the most important thing for the Avalanche was to get "clean zone clears to the forwards with speed." Erik, you're a genius and I agree completely.
This has to be a joke right? The Avalanche did a good job to set up possession in the Blues' zone to start the period and started to cycle the puck effectively. When the puck got to Brad Stuart he attempted a slap pass to... I honestly have NO IDEA where he was trying to pass to. Where it went was a St. Louis player's stick and then IMMEDIATELY into the Avalanche net. The Blues rushed up the ice, used a drop pass to create space, and then Alex Pietrangelo fired a nice wrister from the point. At full speed Vladimir Tarasenko reached his stick ahead of him and made a beautiful tip off the backhand side of his stick blade. Varlamov didn't stand a chance against the deflection. It was just beautiful. 49 seconds into the 3rd and the Avalanche are trailing 2-0.
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Fear not Avalanche fans! Hope was on the horizon! The Avalanche earned a power play just seconds after the goal against. The first half of the Avalanche power play was abysmal, and saw Varlamov covering the puck after a clear with almost no pressure, but after the defensive zone faceoff, the 2nd power play unit got their feet moving and, as a result, an Avalanche goal. With the power play set up in the Blues zone, Erik Johnson caught MacKinnon sneaking in to the high slot, then MacKinnon fired the puck on net where O'Reilly was creating good traffic in front. The puck bounced off O'Reilly's stick/shin but O'Reilly corralled the bouncing puck and tucked it past the Blues goaltender to put the Avs on the board.
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The Blues had a few strong shifts in the Avs end before Alex Tanguay and Dennis Everberg took the game overfor an excellent shift in the Blues zone. First Everberg nearly set up Tanguay for a tip in goal, then Everberg hunted down a Blues player attempting to clear the puck, stole that puck and set up Tanguay again. The quick turnaround drew a penalty from the flat footed St. Louis defense. Once again the Avs first power play unit was relatively ineffective and the 2nd unit was XD. First Nathan MacKinnon nearly picked the top left corner from the boards, then he took the puck off the left side boards, deked past Maxime Lapierre and aggressively stepped between the hash marks before wristing the puck past Brian Elliott and tying the game.
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On the next shift Everberg tried ANOTHER wraparound under Brian Elliott's left leg. The puck slipped off his stick, deflected off a defenseman's skate, and missed just wide. If Everberg does not score a wraparound goal this season I will eat my Avalanche hat. A few shifts later, Nathan MacKinnon and Jarom Iginla put together one of the prettiest zone exits of the season for the Avalanche. MacKinnon made a pass to Iginla in his own zone to spring the forward down the left side where Iginla was absolutely FLYING (don't tell that old dude he can't still skate). MacKinnon took off and caught up to Iginla just as he approached the top of the Blues' circles, so Iginla dropped the puck and drove the net, giving MacKInnon space in the high slot, where MacKinnon fired a dangerous wrister at the net. Elliott made the save but wow was that a beauty of a breakout.
With 11:00 to go, John Mitchell came across and made a solid, clean check on know unrepentant thug Ryan Reaves. Mitchell skated away and continued to play hockey, while Reaves stood there, yelled at the refs, then ignored the hockey game to slowly skate across the ice, tower over Mitchell, and cross checked him in the chin at the Avs box away from the play. I was assured in the game preivew that the Blues are not dirty, so I will refrain from further comment on this incident.
The Avalanche had a few "one and done" chances on the power play, including a booming shot from Tyson Barrie which beat Brian Elliott and succumbed to the Blues' post. The Avs power play fizzled out at the end of the two minutes, and we went to a much needed commercial break tied 2-2.
With just under 8:00 to go, the refs missed a blatant penalty when Joakim Lindstrom went down in the corner of the Avs zone and covered the puck with his hand to protect it from the Avs' defense hovering over him. The Blues got two additional shots on net as a direct result of the play from Lindstrom. I wouldn't complain about the penalty if Nick Holden wasn't pegged just 2:00 later for "the worst penalty in hockey," when he fired the puck over the glass and receiver two minutes for delay of game.
The Blues had two good opportunities on the penalty kill, but the Avalanche stood tall and made a number of strong defensive plays, the best of which was Captain Gabe Landeskog laying out near the left side point to block a wide open slap shot from Pietrangelo. Overall a very successful penalty kill which saw Varlamov make 2 saves by my count, both right in the chest.
Now with 3:20 left on the clock I'm getting very stressed out because I reallllllly dislike the Blues and really, really want the Avs to win this game. With 2:40 left on the clock Brian Elliott almost went full clown-shoes as he left his net and passed the puck directly to Ryan O'Reilly. Unfortunately, he maintained his angle when he left the net. Next up was another good shift from the third line, when Dennis Everberg chipped the puck deep and on net, then drove through a check and three St. Louis players to force a cover and win an offensive zone faceoff for his team.
With 42 seconds left in the game, Erik Johnson lobbed the puck high into the air and deep into the offensive zone. The puck dropped within 1.5 stick lengths of Jackman, who coasted as slow as possible towards the puck, kept his stick even with the plane of his body and somehow, miraculously goaded the refs into blowing the whistle for icing. Absolutely ludicrous.
The "Final" buzzer sounds and we're headed to OT.
How different was that third period? The Avalanche outshot the Blues 12-5. It was WAY different. Granted the Avalanche had 3 power plays in the 3rd period to the Blues 1, but they earned two of those power plays with long, dominant shifts in the offensive zone.
Final tally after 60 minutes:
SOG: 27-26 St. Louis
Corsi: 51-46 St. Louis
What a way to come back after a disastrous first period.
After being overtime gold last season, the Avalanche have struggled putting games away after 60 minutes this season:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>COL is 0-3 in OT and 0-1 SO. First extra time win? <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Avs?src=hash">#Avs</a></p>— Mike Chambers (@MikeChambers) <a href="https://twitter.com/MikeChambers/status/528737468032761858">November 2, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Lets put that trend to an end shall we?
30 seconds into the extra period Brian Elliot left his net and once again, nearly passed the puck right to Matt Duchene. He's going to give up a goal that was this year, you can count on it. The overtime was very back and forth, but without many solid opportunities. The Avalanche had a bizarre shift 2:00 into OT where Tyson Barrie skated two full laps around the Blues offensive zone with the puck before giving the puck to Tanguay, who skated most of a lap before dishing the puck to Mitchell up high, who handcuffed Elliott with a wrist shot near the goalie's neck. Elliott clenched, got a whistle, and collapsed back into his net relieved. With 1:20 left in the period Matt Duchene absolutely burned Gunnarsson with a spin move, but the puck slipped away from him in open space and was covered by Elliott. Duchene went to the bench looking skyward. On the ensuing faceoff the Avalanche had an excellent chance when Tyson Barrie centered the puck and Gabe Landeskog DOVE through the scrum to get his stick on the puck and fire a shot on net. Elliott extended the pad and stopped the shot. Moments later the Avalanche nearly won the game again on a beautiful passing sequence from MacKinnon, to Barrie on the left side, then corner to corner to a streaking Landeskog (ladies), but Landy couldn't get a touch on the puck. The Blues, unable to establish possession, iced the puck with 45 seconds on the clock.
After a long timeout and a highly anticipated faceoff in the Blues zone, the official kicked John Mitchell out of the faceoff dot then inexplicably dropped the puck before Tanguay was set. I have never seen Alex Tanguay that pissed as he sat on the bench shaking his head. After a big chance from Berglund it was the Avs' turn to ice the puck and take a timeout. Matt Duchene won the faceoff and flew up ice with Ryan O'Reilly and then, with just 11 ticks left on the clock, Duchene centered the puck to O'Reilly who tried to shoot farside and narrowly missed the post, and the potential game winner.
Buzzer sounds. To the shootout we go.
Final shot tally. 29-29. The most shots the Blues have given up this season.
Skills Competition (In which Backes, Reaves, and Lapierre will oddly not participate)
Blues: Miss - Steen, right side, wrist shot wide right.
Avs: Save - Landeskog, right side slapshot into Elliott's pad
Blues: GOAL - Lindstrom, comes in slow from the left, little headfake and beats Varlamov 5-hole
Avs: Save - SNAKEBIT. Duchene double pumps, fakes Elliott badly and squeaks the puck fivehole, but it goes through the legs and hit's Elliott's back skate before trickling wide.
Blues: Save - Tarasenko, little fake and a hard wrister to the right. Glove save Varlamov
Avs: Save - O'Reilly goes wide right, fakes and moves back left, Elliott barely tips the puck wide with his pad. And I mean barely...
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The Avs move to 0-2 in shootouts with ZERO goals scored and 0-5 in overtime. That's a lot of points left on the table. Yuck
Avs overcome a terrible 1st period to play two very good periods, but some bad luck gives them the OT loss. I mean seriously... Former Avalanche disaster #1 Brian Elliott plays a great game and former Avalanche disaster #2 Joakim Lindstrom gets the shootout game winner? Meanwhile this puck doesn't go in:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>GIF: Elliott makes this save with his heel <a href="http://t.co/QQb3ToaVGu">http://t.co/QQb3ToaVGu</a></p>— Steph (@myregularface) <a href="https://twitter.com/myregularface/status/528743247351664640">November 2, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Hockey is a cruel sport.
MHH Three Stars
1. Erik Johnson - The former Blues defenseman was outstanding tonight, playing a significant role on both Avs' goals and playing great hockey in all three zones. His best game of this young season.
2. Nathan MacKinnon - He was flying in the second two periods and caused both Avalanche goals.
3. For me it's a tie between - Dennis Everberg, and Alex Tanguay. On numerous occasions these two created long shifts in the Blues zone and either drew penalties, or earned offensive faceoffs for the top two lines. That's exactly what you want out of a third line.
Honorable Mentions: Varlamov, excellent as always, Brian Elliott, dammit man why?
The Avs head back to Pepsi Center where the 9-3-0 Anaheim Ducks are rested and waiting. It would have been really great to get 2 points out of this game, because that one is going to be very, very tough. Puck drops tomorrow night at 7:00 PM MST, 9:00 PM EST on Altitude TV.