Thanks to a stupid overtime/shootout game between the Blackhawks and red wings, we joined this game 4:00 and one Avalanche goal in. According to the quick highlight package from NBCSN when the broadcast shifted over, the biggest plays of the first few minutes were a huge check from Nick Holden on the forecheck, and an opening goal from Gabe Landeskog. Landeskog's goal came after a beautiful rush from Nathan MacKinnon, who fired the puck on net and then recovered his own rebound one handed before dishing the puck back to Landeskog for his vintage, Calder-Half-Slap. Landeskog beat Jonathan Quick on the short side and extended his goalscoring streak to 4-games.
Halfway through the period the Avalanche headed to the power play when Shore tripped O'Reilly deep in the Avs zone and sent the Avalanche to the power play. The Avalanche wouldn't score on the man advantage, but they were absolutely dominant and deadly. No self sabotaging here, just a little bit of bad luck. O'Reilly and MacKinnon were particularly dangerous on the PP. O'Reilly had the two best chances of the PP, narrowly missing a gaping net when his shot deflected off a defenseman's leg, and watching his other shot trickle through Quick's legs and slide slowly through the crease and wide. Gabe Landeskog also saw a wide open net off a rebound, but tangled up with Robyn Regehr, he couldn't dig the puck out of his skates for a shot on goal.
Jan Hejda took his own penalty with a little more than 7:30 seconds, but the Avs killed it easily, thanks in large part to some excellent play from Ryan O'Reilly and Max Talbot. After the penalty ended, Matt Duchene put on an incredible performance in the offensive zone and delivered one of his best shifts of the season. Duchene's spun and turned all through the King's zone protecting the puck with his body and outmuscling King's defensemen. Duchene's linemates did well to find open space and finally, after beating most of the team on his own, Duchene fed Max Talbot wide open in front of the net. Talbot completely fanned on the shot and went to the bench shaking his head, So are we Talbs.
As the period wound to a close, Cody McLeod was obviously tripped by a King's stick, but the officials missed the call. They did, however, catch Alex Tanguay for a lazy stick penalty on the next shift. Tanguay was flagged for tripping at 18:10 of the first period. The Avalanche killed the first 1:50 of the penalty with ease, and Max Talbot even created a decent chance shorthanded.
Roy started the second period with 10 more seconds on the penalty kill, and used Matt Duchene and Jarome Iginla up front. That could mean the return of Tanguay to the Duchene line? Maybe. Stay tuned. The Avs finished the penalty kill with ease but shot themselves in the foot just a minute later. The King's tied the game at the 18:44 mark when 4 Avalanche players failed to clear the puck on consecutive attempts. Varlamov, MacKinnon, Redmond, and Landeskog made a series of bad passes and ineffective "chip outs" which ended up on the stick of Tyler Toffoli, who wound up and hit Jeff Carter in front of the net for a tying deflection goal. That's a dumb, avoidable mistake which erased all the excellent play from the Avs first period.
The Avalanche responded well int he immediate aftermath of the goal against, Ryan O'Reilly and Jan Hejda both fired bomb slapshots at Jonathan Quick creating some big rebounds but to no avail. A few shifts later Matt Duchene came out and nearly broke the game open except for some physical abuse from the Kings. First Duchene was obviously held by Kopitar's free hand in a 1-on-1, then on his next entry he nearly escaped for a 2-on-1, but Marian Gaborik dove back and tripped him from behind. No call. Roy, MacKinnon and Landeskog had a very animated discussion about the call with the refs from the bench.
The period started to fall apart at the 14 minute mark when Gabe Landeskog made an outstanding spin-o-rama shot at the King's net which snuck past quick and sat for Nathan MacKInnon to tuck home. Doughty cleared the puck up ice and sprung Trevor Lewis for a rush the other way. Lewis chipped the puck high and Toffolli skated past both Stuart and Holden COMPLETELY UNTOUCHED. Both defensemen watched as Toffoli gathered the puck and went forehand backhand to sneak the puck past Varlamov. 2-1 Kings.
Once again the Avs' top line of Landeskog, O'Reilly, and MacKinnon pushed back in a big way following the King's goal and once again they were denied by Quick's combination of good defense and luck. Seriously, Quick was not good tonight. Constantly out of position, scrambling, recovering, and leaking pucks through him and off him in the form of fat rebounds, he ought to be buying his defense dinner after this one, because they bailed him out again after he misplayed a great wraparound attempt on the backhand by Nathan MacKinnon. O'Reilly was also denied for a 3rd time with 6:00 to play when Jeff Carter redirected his shot off a Tyson Barrie rolling rebound and sent it wide of the open net.
Opportunity after opportunity for the Avalanche and once again it was the Kings who cashed in. During a cycle on their first extended possession in several minutes, the Kings drew a penalty and pulled an extra skater onto the ice. Jarome Iginla attempted to clear the puck and the officials did not blow the whistle despite him making a play on the puck on a delayed penalty, and Iginla's clearing attempt wound up on the stick of Drew Doughty. Doughty continued the 6-on-5 'whistle-less" cycle 6-on-5 and the Avalanche eventually lost track of Dustin Brown despite him standing in the blue paint for almost a minute without moving. Doughty slid the puck over to Brown, who buried the puck from point-blank with no problem.
Watch in this video how the refs hand goes up, Jarome Iginla clears the puck, and no whistle blows. Bravo dumbass zebra.
In fitting fashion for this game, the Avalanche followed it up by beating Quick with another shot and watching the puck trickle towards the goal line before Quick was bailed out by his team (this time the stick of Justin Williams).
With just under a minute to go, Dennis Everberg had his stick snapped in half by a slash. The NBCSN announcers chuckled about the non-call then marveled at the impressive play of some LA Kings line while they went 5-on-4 in the Avs zone, you know... because of the stick they broke.
Want to know how stupid that period of hockey was? The Avs outshot the Kings 18-10 and were outscored 3-0. After two periods:
SOG: Avs 30 - Kings 17
Faceoffs: Avs 22 - Kings 13
Takeaways: Avs 7 - Kings 1
Officials in Pocket: Avs 0 - Kings 4
Would you like to read about the King's "70's line?" Or did NBCSN shove them down your throat enough during the horrific, one-sided broadcast tonight? Yeah... let's skip them.
The Avs didn't get anything going early in the period and the Kings didn't push much in the other direction. 5:00 Jan Hejda tried to pass up the gut from next to his own net and saw his pass picked off by Trevor Lewis. Hejda down back into the slot to block the shot, but took out Dennis Everberg in the process, the Swedish rookie was slow to get up but didn't miss a shift. On the next sequence Nate Guenin carried the puck out of his zone on the right side of the ice and had his pocket picked by Gaborik before reaching the red line. Gaborik broke into the Avs zone and got the Avalanche scrambling, where Alex Tanguay lobbed the puck over the glass and sent the Avalanche back on the penalty kill.
The Avs penalty killing was strong all night and this was no exception, Ryan O'Reilly and Dennis Everberg were particularly good, taking the puck all the way to the Kings' zone with possession and eating up lots of time in the process.
Halfway through the period Matt Duchene made another forceful display in the offensive zone only to watch both his dmen (Redmond and Hejda) simultaneously pinch on opposite sides so that he was caught tired, in a one-on-one with Drew Shore. Shore tripped Duchene in the battle and sent the Avs back on the power play. The Avs generated some shots but were less effective on their second power play of the night. At the end of the power play Robyn Regehr committed a very dangerous boarding penalty to put Zach Redmond face-dirst into the dasher, giving the Avalanche :02 of 5-on-3 time and another power play. The second power play struggled and most of the power play looked to have tired legs. The only real chance came just as the second power play expired when John Mitchell created a turnover and fed Alex Tanguay on the doorstep in behind the LA defense. For once it was Jonathan Quick who actually made the save, as he exploded across the goal-line to deny Tanguay with the pad. No trickle-through on that one.
The Avalanche spent the next few shifts peppering Quick with shots on net. The best opportunity belonged to Jarome Iginla on the doorstep after Max Talbot made an excellent move to the crease from behind the net. Roy pulled his goalie with just under 3:00 left on the clock and the Avalanche continued to lay waste to the Kings net with an all out barrage of shots on goal. With 1:47 the Kings iced the puck and took their timeout to save the legs of some very tired Kings players.
After the timeout Jake Muzzin stepped on Alex Tanguay's stick and drew a tripping penalty for the Kings. The Avalanche pulled Varlamov again as soon as they got the puck to even it back up at 5-on-5. The Avs had one good chance in front from Jarome Iginla, who missed high and wide, then a bad blind pass on a set breakout from Ryan O'Reilly led to a turnover at center ice. O'Reilly tried to dive back and stop Jeff Carter but Carter easily sunk the puck into the empty net.
43 shots on goal for the Avalanche. At least 3 that went through Quick and were saved behind the goalie by Kings players in the blue paint, and only 1 goal, which Avs fans DIDNT EVEN GET TO SEE (thanks Hawks-Wings) to show for it. Ugh.
MHH Three Stars
1. O'Reilly, MacKinnon, and Landeskog. No splitting hairs in this game these guys were dominant all night long.
The result isn't what you want, but the Avs process was right tonight and they played a good hockey game. If the Avs played like this all season, we wouldn't be scrambling now outside of a playoff spot. The wins over a tired Dallas team and an awful Arizona squad were one thing, but dominating the Kings tonight was another, regardless of result, and it was certainly encouraging.
Next Up: The Avalanche head to Chicago on Friday for a Central Division showdown.