The Colorado Avalanche lost a heartbreaker tonight in overtime after their best defensive effort of the season. The much maligned blue line crew stepped up and allowed a mere 19 shots, but it wouldn't be enough in the end, as the traveling Hurricanes scored the game's lone goal during the 3-on-3 extra frame.
The story much of the night was the endless barrage of penalties committed by both teams: nine two-minute minors in all -- four by the Hurricanes and five by the Avalanche. The sloppy play would bog down much of the first two periods and keep a hungry Colorado team off the scoreboard despite some encouraging play. The Avs, really for the first time this season, dominated the scoring chances early on. The top lines really seemed to be developing some chemistry and Brandon Gormley looked like an instant upgrade playing with Nick Holden. Semyon Varlamov also returned to form, pitching a shut-out through three periods.
The overtime period should prove to be a learning experience, both for line combinations as well as usage (getting Tyson Barrie won't hurt at all either). The Avs got the first few opportunities, including a golden Jarome Iginla breakaway that was stuffed by Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward. Two minutes in, however, Gabe Landeskog's line would be caught too long on the wide-open ice and gave up the sudden death goal to a charging Victor Rask, ending the game.
- Cam Ward - The Hurricanes' goalie made all the big saves tonight, including an unforgivable robbery of Matt Duchene late in the 3rd period. Mikko Rantanen started a nice 2-on-2 breakaway, finding Iginla streaking down the right-hand side, who would make beautiful drop-pass to a trailing Duchene. He could have shot right there in the slot, but instead Tanguay'd both Ward and two defenders out of their skates and fired a puck right at the wide-open net. But instead of going in for the game-winning goal, Ward stuck out his stick while lying on the ice and made a miracle save. Heartbreaking.
- Matt Duchene - No. 9's line dominated much of the evening and Duchene was a big reason why. He led all offensive skaters with Plus-7 Corsi (+/-) and provided great scoring chances Iginla and Rantanen too.
Brandon Gormley - I sincerely hope Patrick Roy saw what the rest of us did tonight. Gormley was solid in his own end, made solid outlet passes, and got real-life actual shots off. If he isn't in the starting lineup the next game, I will be organizing a riot. You heard it here first.
- Nate Guenin - Oh, gee. You again? Minus-6 Corsi (+/-). There's just not much more to say.
- Blake Comeau - Bumped off Duchene's line to the 3rd tonight. Had probably his roughest game in a Colorado uniform. Minus-4 Corsi (+/-). So far, this line has been terrible no matter who has played on it. Hopefully Comeau can return to being the positive player he was to start the season.
- Nick Holden - Oddly, I was going to put him with the "Stand-Outs" through the first 50 minutes of this game. Holden played a lot of really positive minutes 5v5, on the power-play, and on the penalty kill. He led the team in minutes by a fair margin through two periods and then fell off a cliff. In light of this, I think his performance at least partially falls on Roy.