Tonight through forty minutes was painful to watch. You know the formula: the Avalanche are pinned in their own zone for exhausting lengths of time, can't catch a breakout pass to save their lives, and aren't getting nearly enough scoring chances to compete. Fortunately, the game is sixty minutes long.
The early going was pretty sloppy for both teams, replete with clogged neutral zones, turnovers, and very few shot attempts reaching the goaltenders. But once Winnipeg got it going, the Avalanche had a hard time even clearing the zone. Chalk it up to the two-week long road trip, talent level, or whatever, but I'm not sure Colorado won more than a handful of puck battles for long stretches of the 1st Period. But Semyon Varlamov, fresh off the injured reserve list, looked up to the challenge, turning away a number of Winnipeg chances. The only thing that slipped through was a Toby Enstrom goal from the point through traffic at 13:40. The way the Avalanche offense was functioning, it looked like it might be enough.
But if you thought that was bad, the 2nd Period would be a real eye-opener. The Avalanche would only manage eight shots toward the net to the Jets twenty-one. Yeah, it was brutal as it sounds. So, they gave up another four goals and limped back to the locker room, right? Nope. Varlamov kept everything out of the net and Carl Soderberg powered his way to the net during a Dustin Byfuglien penalty and fired a puck off a Jets defender past Michael Hutchinson. Despite being completely overmatched for much of the period, Colorado went in at the intermission tied 1-1.
Then something strange happened. The Avs decided they really wanted to win and played one of their best 3rd periods of the season. Cody McLeod scored a quintessential Cody McLeod goal, deflecting a Zach Redmond shot off his shin-guard while parked in the slot. And then Matt Duchene decided he wasn't ready for his scoring streak to end, receiving a great pass from Tyson Barrie and muscling his way to the net on a breakaway. One little poke five-hole made the game 3-1.
Winnipeg pulled the goalie and got off a couple of shots before Blake Comeau came across a loose puck and scored on an empty-net chance with a minute left.
- Semyon Varlamov - Yeah, we were digging the Berra-cade at times these past couple of weeks, but I think I speak for everyone when I say, "Welcome Back!"
- Nine-Line - Winnipeg sent everything they had at Landeskog-Mackinnon-Duchene the entire night and still couldn't keep it entirely contained. This is a special group that's on a torrid scoring pace right now. Avs fans should be excited to see what they can do at home during the next stretch.
- Beauchemin-Johnson - This pairing is getting all the tough draws right now and they haven't been successful every night, but tonight they definitely were. These guys got it done.
- Zach Redmond - Plus-4 CF+/-. Not too shabby for a guy who's been riding the bench. I'd like to see this experiment continue a little long. The more competent puck-moving defensemen the Avs put on the ice, the better. Redmond made the play on Cody McLeod's goal.
- Nick Holden - Minus-24 tonight CF+/-. He was stuck in his own end the entire night. Rough to watch.
- Tyson Barrie - Not far behind with Minus-16. A secondary assist on Duchene's goal saves an otherwise forgettable evening.
- Wednesday November 25 at home against the Ottawa Senators