There's the goalie we know and love! Semyon Varlamov returned to form tonight making 34 out of 35 saves, including a few huge breakaway stops when the team needed him the most. He was quick with his glove, strong in the crease, and saw the puck better than he had all season.
The first period featured little action for most of its duration. Sloppy neutral ice play and frustrating penalties dominated play, with only a few odd-man rushes by each team to break up the monotony. Hard work, however, would pay off 15:57 in when the new line combination of Nathan MacKinnon, Jarome Iginla, and Alex Tanguay would squeak a goal past Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. This line would strike gold again in the 2nd Period with Tanguay and Iginla getting the puck to the front of the net and Nathan MacKinnon streaking in from center ice to tap it in from the crease.
Tampa Bay would strike right back just 2:42 later on a power play earned by a Gabe Landeskog slash. Hedman blasted the puck from the right circle, deflecting off Valtteri Fillpula, and back out in front by Varlamov. Alex Killorn would slam the puck home, drawing the Lightning back 2-1.
The 3rd period was -- get this -- scoreless! I know, crazy, right? In a season where we've seen a considerable amount of final-frame tumult, the Avs actually buckled down and won a one-goal game. It wasn't always pretty, with a couple of awful turnovers and an inexcusable defensive-zone clear over the boards by Matt Duchene, but all is forgiven in victory.
The power play was once again atrocious, going 0-for-6 and failing to get a shot off for two of them. This team has still yet to put together a truly complete game, so we'll take the scrappy ones in the meantime.
(Graph Courtesy of War-On-Ice.com)
- Semyon Varlamov - The Avalanche goalie looked like himself tonight and that's tremendous news for a Colorado team that struggled as Varly got his legs underneath himself early on.
- Nathan MacKinnon - One goal, one assist, and a lot of intangibles that directly contributed to this victory. Count me a fan of his work on the penalty kill and a huge admirer of the penalty he drew on Victor Hedman in the 3rd. MacKinnon overpowered one of the biggest players in the league for an entire possession.
- Tyson Barrie - Boy did we miss you! Plus-10 5-on-5 C+/- tonight. Moved the puck with aplomb and got it moving toward the net from the blue line. Now, if we could only get the power play going...
- Matt Duchene - I've been a pretty big defender of him during this losing streak, but not tonight. His new line with Landeskog and Skille was ineffective and his delay of game penalty toward the end of the game could have been a serious mistake.
- Nate Guenin - Shall we just reserve this spot for it's permanent resident? I might even change the category name in his honor. Minus-13 tonight 5-on-5 C+/-.
- Nikita Zadorov - Rough game for the big kid. It's not easy playing defensive by yourself against the Easter Conference Champion. He'll have better games than this.