The Avalanche came out tonight with a lot of energy. Andreas Martinsen particularly was an absolute monster in hockey skates. The Lord of Fjörcheck had easily his best 20 minutes in an Avalanche uniform, making great passes for scoring opportunities, pressuring the puck below the goal line, unleashing a seismic event on Barret Jackman. Coach Patrick Roy wants Martinsen to play physically. Tonight we saw this message manifest itself before our eyes.
The Avs got on the board first. Andreas Martinsen drew an interference penalty on Paul Gaustad and put Colorado on the power play. After some nifty passing, Francois Beauchemin caught the puck at the top of the left circle and unleashed a laser past a perfectly screened Pekka Rinne (Video). Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon would pick up assists on the play. A few minutes later, John Mitchell caught a pass a headed through the neutral zone up the right side. He skated past three defenders and dished to Alex Tanguay cutting down the middle. Tangs then passed it to Nick Holden who jumped up on the play and buried it to go up 2-0 (Video). The period really could not have gone any better -- or so we thought. With just seven seconds left, the Predators loaded up the front of the net with traffic and Ryan Ellis fired a wrister at the crease. The puck then hit Miikka Solamaki's skate on the far side and angled in (Video). Terrible luck, but also a terrible lapse of concentration in the final moments of an otherwise great period.
Speaking of terrible things: the 2nd Period happened. There's not much you can say here to make light of the situation. The middle frame was flat-out stinky. How bad you ask? Well, it was three-shot-attempts-the-entire-period bad, with just one of those hitting the net. The Avs didn't make it easy on themselves defensively either, committing three needless penalties. Shea Weber barraged goalie Semyon Varlamov with 107-mph slapshot after slapshot, but the Avs netminder would have none of it. Despite being unspeakably terrible, Colorado come away at the buzzer unscathed. Nor would they doing any scathing themselves ("What do you mean they didn't score on their one shot on goal!?!?!").
Unfortunately, this wave of ineptitude didn't entirely contain itself to the 2nd Period. Just 58 seconds into the third, Craig Smith ripped a shot from the blue line that found the back of the net to tie the game 2-2 (Video). "Oh, here we go again!" cried the Avalanche fan base collectively, all noticing at once the similarity to the other night's Penguins game. But unlike that game, Colorado buckled down, played good defense, and gave themselves good opportunities. Andreas Martin at the 9:36 mark, looking to wrap the voting for tonight's Most Badass award, swatted a puck out of mid-air to score his second goal of the season and put the Avs up 3-2 (Video). Nashville would try to fight back, but it was to no avail. Varlamov was too good and the good guys won.
Good news on the espionage front as well. I am told Agent Fish survived the mission and made it to the extraction point.
- Andreas Martinsen - Biggest hit we've seen this year, +5 CF, and the game-winning goal. Uh, sign me up for more of that. Best night of his young NHL career.
- Semyon Varlamov - That guy who was letting a bunch of goals at the beginning of the year seems to have gone back to the hell from whence he came. The real guy is back, ladies and gentlemen! Another .944 Save % to add to an improving resume.
- Carl Soderberg - Centered the best line on the ice tonight and put in a ton of hard work on the penalty kill. Led the team with +6 CF. Avs fans are starting to see why the team coveted him during free agency this past offseason.
- Alex Tanguay - Great primary assist on the second goal, but what in the world, Tangs? The Avs were -15 CF tonight as a team. Tanguay was -15 all by himself. That's just...unheard of.
- Jarome Iginla - Not far behind was the other wing on that line at -11. Recorded only 11:18 of ice time tonight and was nowhere to be found backchecking on Nashville's tying goal. These guys just can't be on the same line together.