During a night mostly dedicated the Avalanche achievements of the past, Colorado won during a 3-on-3 overtime period very much of this era.
The first period was quite a reversal from Saturday's manhandling. After getting outshot 17-6 in Minnesota, improvements were undeniably necessary. Playing in front of a full house and watching some of the game's greatest players receive 20th Anniversary commemorations beforehand, the Avalanche played considerably more inspired hockey. The passes were crisp, the defense was stout, and the team worked for high quality shots. When the first buzzer sounded, the score was 0-0 but the shots at the net were 11-9 Avs and a suffocating 1-3-1 neutral zone trap was preventing Minnesota from getting any clean possession in the Colorado zone.
It didn't take long for the Avs to remedy the lack of scoring, though. Just 4:13 into the 2nd Period, Tyson Barrie came up with the puck behind the Avalanche net and headed up ice. Shortly after entering he Wild zone he made a drop pass to a waiting Blake Comeau and bee-lined toward the net. Comeau made a nifty pass to Carl Soderberg streaking down the left side who immediately found Barrie again by the right post. It was as pretty of a passing sequence as you'll see all year. The period would then swing Minnesota's way as the Avs tried getting "The Turtle" out of its terrarium. The Wild would end up with 16 shots toward net that period to 10; however, none of theirs would find the back of the net.
I wish I could tell you the Avalanche kept their foot on the gas for the 3rd and comfortably coasted to victory, but this is the Wild we're talking about here. Colorado would outshoot Minnesota 15-12 in the period and get plenty of high quality chances, but all were turned away by Darcy Kuemper. And then with 6:09 left, just as victory appeared a possibility, Zach Parise found a way to terrorize the Avalanche for yet another goal this season.
Overtime was a dervish of excitement with plenty of opportunities for both sides and both goalies keeping their teams alive. With both teams huffing and puffing both directions, John Mitchell caught a puck in the Minnesota zone and waited out Kuemper to snipe home the game winner. Matt Duchene missed on a giant bear hug, the home crowd rejoiced, and the evening's honored guests got to witness their former team defeat a division rival. All is good in the world.
- Semyon Varlamov - The Avalanche goalie is starting to catch his groove. After a 41 save performance on Saturday, he turned away 19 of 20 tonight, including a couple of prime chances in OT.
- John Mitchell - Game winner. Enough said, right? Well, not quite. His line, with Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay, had one of their better games of the season. Mitchell was +2 CF tonight, but the other two were +4 and +5.
- Tyson Barrie - One goal, one assist. Wasn't his cleanest game defensively, but this is the production the Avs need out of Barrie to succeed.
- The Wild
- The Wild
- The Wild