Fittingly, on this Thanksgiving eve, the Avalanche draw many comparisons to that of so many Thanksgiving foods in the first two periods of this game. Any of the following phrases would accurately describe the way the team played the first forty minutes: "The Avalanche are the turkey of the National Hockey League." "The Avalanche get mashed more than potatoes do." "The Avalanche are getting stuffed in almost every game they play." "The Avalanche took a (insert your favorite kind of pie here) pie to the face."
Similarly to Monday at Winnipeg, the Avalanche found their groove in the 3rd period to make things interesting at the end, but it proved to not be enough as Colorado continues to fall even farther in the Western Conference standings.
1st Period: I could be wrong, but I'm willing to bet that there weren't 20 people in Colorado who knew who Shane Prince was before tonight. In the first ten minutes of the opening period, he introduced himself to the Avalanche and their fans quite impressively, scoring two goals. The first of which was one goaltender Semyon Varlamov would have liked to have back as it slid right between his pads and leaked just inches past the goal line. The second was a good solid hockey play set up well by teammate Zach Smith.
The newest Avalanche, Chris Wagner, playing in his first game at his new home, made it a memorable one when he scored the first goal of his NHL career with an unassisted backhanded flick at the top of the goal crease to cut the Colorado deficit in half at 2-1.
2nd period: Ottawa scored twice with goals from Kyle Turris and the aforementioned Zach Smith. How much effort did most Avs players put into this period? As much effort as I'm putting into this blurb on the 2nd period. It was minimal.
3rd period: Patrick Roy made a rather bold decision midway through the final period when Nathan MacKinnon drew an Ottawa penalty during an Avs' penalty kill that led to what is usually 4 on 4 action. Roy pulled his goaltender to bring out a 5th skater, and a 6th skater once penalty offender Erik Johnson was released from the box. I was not a fan of this decision with 10 minutes left to play, but it paid off. A slap shot from MacKinnon got deflected by Gabe Landeskog and found twine making it a 4-2 game.
Just a few minutes later, Landeskog and MacKinnon got on the score sheet again, this time with an assist from Gabe and score from Mack. The captain made a nice steal behind the Ottawa goal and fed MacKinnon in the slot, allowing him to wrist one past Anderson and make it 4-3.
Colorado had its chances late to tie things up, but former Avalanche goaltender Craig Anderson stood tall and prevented a game-tying goal. The game was sealed for the Senators after the Avalanche got a late power play opportunity with 10 seconds left, but the ensuing face-off got shot straight down the ice and in the void Colorado goal making it 5-3 in favor of the Senators, and ending the game at that score.
Mr. Fish's Three Sardines:
#3: Carl Soderberg: Despite no points, Soda had a nice game and wreaked havoc a couple of times on Ottawa's defense. After a slow start in October, Carl has quietly had a solid month of hockey in November.
#2: Matt Duchene: Mighty Matt continues to be a force to be reckoned with. He had chances to increase on his very high scoring November, but it wasn't quite to be. Still, he looked like the best player on the ice for the Avalanche for the umpteenth time this season.
#1: Gabriel Landeskog/Nathan MacKinnon: Gabe and Nate share top accolades on this occasion for sparking the Avs' offense in the final period and giving the team a chance to win. Each assisted on the other's goal and were the top Colorado point-getters tonight.
Mr. Fish's Three Flounder:
#3: Semyon Varlamov: His defense didn't give him a whole lot of help, but Varly was far from sharp tonight. That first goal he gave up hurt to watch and proved to be a big difference-maker.
#2: Dave Farrish: Reading comments on tonight's game thread just makes me realize that much more how unhelpful he has been towards this team's porous defense. The Avs have lots of organizational changes that need to be made, but dismissing him should be the first.
#1: Nick Holden: Rough night for Nickie again tonight. His lack of defense sparked the ire of many Avs fans and is proving to be the ultimate defensive liability for the Avs. The three year extension Sakic gave him 16 months ago looks increasingly more questionable as time goes along.
-After he gave up his third goal, Varlamov was pulled and Reto Berra came out in relief. Varlamov was 12 for 15 on saves with a .800 percentage, Berra 12 for 13 and .923.
-The Avs have only won two games in nine tries at Pepsi Center this season. Every other team in the league has won at least three times on its home ice.
-Ottawa captured its fourth straight win tonight and is quietly making ground in the league standings and creeping towards Montreal for 1st place in the Atlantic. The Senators now have 29 points, which is the 6th most in the league. If you want a positive from tonight's game, it's that the Avalanche came from behind and gave what is truly one of the best teams in the NHL a run for their money late.
Happy Thanksgiving, Avs fans. Hopefully you all have something to be thankful for besides the current state of this hockey team.