One word to describe the First Period? Woof. If your idea of entertaining hockey is shots toward the net, then you may have been better off skipping this one. Just twenty-three pucks were fired at the net between the two teams, with only seven actually getting to there. Yeah, it was as boring as it sounds, with pucks bouncing over awaiting sticks, getting stuck in corners, and idling innocuously at in the neutral zone. The Rangers, held to just one shot on goal for much of the early going got a "Bronx Cheer" from the home crowd shortly after recording their second. If you're into face-punching, Cody McLeod and Tanner Glass made sure you got your daily dose 7:46 into the period. The spirited effort resulted in Glass bleeding his own blood, so I guess that was good. When the first buzzer sounded, the score unsurprisingly read 0-0.
The Second Period threatened to more of the same, but then it all the sudden wasn't. Often these bursts of energy are the result of a power play, breakaway, or even a fight, but tonight it was a vicious Rick Nash skate to Erik Johnson's face. The play looked harmless enough from the initial television angle with two men falling to the ice, but the replay revealed something much more terrifying. Nash circling around with Johnson in pursuit lost his balance and inadvertently kicked his leg up. The skate upper-cut Johnson square in the mouth and drew a considerable amount of blood -- hockey fans everywhere gasping in horror. But you know what happened? Johnson after heading to the locker room was back on the ice mere minutes, maybe only missing a single shift. As of this writing, we're not sure what damage was inflicted, but I'm pretty convinced Erik Johnson is Wolverine. What transpired afterward was glorious, with Chris Wagner scoring off a beautiful Jack Skille pass and Matt Duchene nabbing a second during a 2-on-1 breakaway. The second period ended with the Avs up 2-0 and Erik Johnson dead. I call that win-win.
I'm not a great lip-reader, but I'm confident Patrick Roy could be seen behind the bench before the 3rd Period saying, "Go-Go-Gadget Turtle!" Indeed, Colorado mostly receded into a tight shell of dump-ins, clogged neutral zones, and quick shifts. It's a strategy they've employed with more frequency of late after a number of early-season breakdowns. This worked for 19:11 of the period until the Rangers pulled their goalie and scored on an Oscar Lindberg goal from point blank range. However, subsequent attempts would be turned away and the Avs would head to the locker room 2-1 victors.
- Chris Wagner - Nice job again by the new guy in town. He scores his 3rd goal in an Avalanche uniform and continues to anchor the 4th line from the center position. You can't ask much more from a waiver claim.
- Matt Duchene - Hey, Dutchy. Stop being so freaking good already! You're making the rest of the league look bad. This scoring stretch is just incredible to watch and I'm confident everyone here agrees you should keep it up.
- Erik Johnson - Anyone who takes a skate to the face and is back on the ice before he can be missed has my vote. EJ played a lot of tough minutes tonight and helped keep a tough rangers team off the board for 59 minutes tonight.
Semyon Varlamov - More of this, please! The Avalanche's No. 1 goalie looked the part tonight, turning away everything that came his way until the very end. Saw the puck well, made athletic saves -- what else could you want? Big step forward tonight.
- Rick Nash's skate - Screw you, buddy.
- Seemingly never-ending road trips - Um, can we have the Avs back, already?
Fighting - Over it.