So, I just watched sixty minutes of hockey. The teams listed in the upper-left-hand corner of the television broadcast were the Colorado Avalanche and the NHL's best team, the Montreal Canadiens. I'm having a hard time believing this is accurate, because the score at the conclusion of the game read 6-1 in favor of Colorado. This simply isn't possible. It's a known fact the Avalanche can't win this game -- call it hockey god dogma. The only rational explanation is Altitude Network's graphics team really needs to clean up its act. I mean, c'mon guys -- I know it's the weekend, but can we sober up just a little bit before doing our jobs?
But maybe it's true. I've pinched myself multiple times and have yet to wake up. Sooo...let's see if I can piece together the details.
Early in the 1st Period, Montreal hit goalie Reto Berra with a barrage of shots. Not unlike the two preceding games, the Avalanche were disorganized and having trouble getting the puck out of their own zone. Also not unlike the first two games, Colorado figured out a way to overcome this shot discrepancy and get on the board first. Nathan MacKinnon won a faceoff in the Canadiens' zone and pushed the puck toward Duchene in the corner, who skated to open space below the goal line. MacKinnon then crashed toward the net and Duchene zipped a pass to him through the slot, but he got tied up and the puck bounced off his skates to Mikhail Grigorenko, who was filling in on that line for the suspended Gabriel Landeskog. Grigs caught the puck on his forehand and fired a shot past Canadiens' goalie Mike Condon. 1-0 Avalanche.
For the next fifteen minutes we would see more dominating play by the Canadiens. They would end the period with 17 shots on goal and Plus-13 CF. Surely they scored, right? Wrong! Reto Berra absorbed and redirected everything sent his way and gave Nathan MacKinnon the opportunity to score two goals within thirteen seconds of each other before the period ended. 3-0 Avalanche.
The Canadiens would get on board next on a Brendan Gallagher goal 8:48 into the period. A Matt Duchene high-sticking penalty three minutes later would put Montreal on the power play with a chance to make it just a one-score game. But that didn't happen -- it didn't happen at all! Blake Comeau, who has been a key contributor on the second line the last stretch of games, stole the puck and ripped a slapshot past Condon for a shorthanded goal. 4-1 Avs!
We've seen a few 3rd periods slip away from Colorado this season. Tonight wasn't one of those nights. Alexander Semin committed a high-sticking penalty 9:33 into the period. Moments into the ensuing power play Matt Duchene would receive another stick the face, drawing blood that smeared his jersey -- only this one wouldn't be called. Instead of getting mad, he got even, roofing a point blank shot after a nice pass from Nathan MacKinnon. 5-1 Avs! Three minutes later, John Mitchell would get in on the action, firing a shot into a wide-open net after a nice pass from Andreas Martinsen. That would be Martinsen's first career NHL point. Congrats!
The Avalanche have finally been playing like the team we know they're capable of being, now 3-0 on their seven-game road trip with Berra leading the league in save percentage with .948. Things are looking good (about time) for the boys in burgundy and blue. Let’s make it 4-0 with another W against the Maple Leafs on Tuesday.
So, here's a fun graph: Look at Montreal completely dominating in shots and it not mattering one bit :)
(Standouts and Schmucks Coming Soon)