It took Dallas just 8 seconds to get their first shot on net, but since it was a slapshot from center ice it wasn't really a problem for Semyon Varlamov #shotquality. All jokes aside, Dallas kept up the assault on Varlamov and moved it much closer to the Avalanche net in the early part of the first period. 5:00 into the game, the Avalanche were already down 6 shots to none, including a very dangerous point blank opportunity for Jamie Benn, who spun out in front of the Avs net from behind the Avs' net and tried to jam the puck through Varlamov's five hole.
There was an interesting interaction in the first few minutes between Semyon Varlamov and Vernon Fiddler. While waiting for the Avalanche to break the puck out from behind his net, Varlamov stood up and screened FIddler's view of the Avalanche defender. Fiddler responded with a quick poke of the stick into Varlamov's pads, but Varly carries a bigger stick and whacked Fiddler's stick away to the corner with a deft swipe of the goalstick.
By the 13:37 mark the Avalanche had yet to register a shot on net or maintain possession in the Stars's zone. All that puck chasing predictably led to a John Mitchell holding penalty in his own zone. The Stars didn't take long to eviscerate the Avalanche power play, scoring just a few seconds into the power play after passing circles around the Avalanche penalty killers. The goal was a beautiful corner snipe of a one timer by Patrick Eaves, assisted by Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza.
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Seeing his team struggling badly, Jarome Iginla picked a fight with Antoine Roussell in hopes of sparking some energy. It wasn't much of a fight but Iginla lost his helmet and went down to the ice hard once the two became tangled up. Why Iginla thinks that trading our leading scorer for Roussell is a good idea when down by a goal on the road early.... I have no idea. I thought meaningless fights are why we signed Cody McLeod to a three year extension. At any rate the Avalanche response did show up on the stat sheet, as Ryan O'Reilly hounded a Dallas defender on the forecheck, stole the puck, and created a nice chance for himself in front. The Avs first shot of the game, coming way too late in the first and already down by 1.
At the 10:00 mark Ryan O`Reilly was the victim of a hard hit from his blind side at the enemy blue line. O'Reilly saw the checker at the last second and tried to step back, turning the collision into a knee-on-knee. Luckily both players skated away from the hit unscathed.
With 7:58 left in the period, the Dallas rookie John Klingberg entered the zone with the puck while his teammates changed lines (take notes Roy), made a good move to step around Zach Redmong and drew another power play for the Stars as Redmond reached in and held him. The Stars power play cycled well and had a number of very dangerous chances. The first great chance came when Benn set up Spezza in the slot, but O'Reilly and Hejda did a good job to tie up Spezza's stick. Moments later Tyler Seguin looked to have a lane to the net, but Nick Holden swam into the shooting lane and blocked the puck under his body. Holden lay on the puck until the officials blew the whistle and the Avalanche killed the remainder of the penalty off with ease.
After the Stars' second power play ended the game slowed to a crawl. Neither team established any meaningful zone presence and fans were treated to several minutes of neutral zone scrambling, dump and change, and a few failed cycles per side. After starting out with a 0-6 shot deficit, the Avalanche went even with Dallas the rest of the way (despite two penalties) and finished the first period down 4-10 in total shots on goal. Barrie, Duchene, Iginla, Redmond, Tanguay, and Landeskog were all held without a shot.
ICYMI: The Stars won the first 13 faceoffs of the 1st period. Ouchies.
The Avalanche started off their second period the exact opposite of the first, with a 1:00 shift in the Stars zone. The O'Reilly line delivered by far the Avs best shift of the game so far, cycling well and setting the table for Brad Stuart at the point 3 separate times. The Stars eventually cleared the puck when a Stars player broke their stick blocked Stuart's shot and cleared the puck with his hand. Icing was waived off for reasons no one knows.
The next 4 minutes ticked by without a single whistle and the Stars best chance was blocked by a sliding Tyson Barrie in front of the Avs' net. 5:00 into the period an Avalanche player (either Stuart or Landeskog I think) made an awful turnover on the left halfboards in their own zone and sent the team scrambling to recover. Varlamov made a good save then with the puck in the corner, Jamie Benn high sticked Brad Stuart and gave the Avalanche their first
power pla.... man advantage.... 2:00 interval of having an extra player of the evening. The Avalanche had one of their most horrific power plays this season, failing to possess the puck in the zone for the majority of the 2:00 and negating their own possession with bad pass after bad pass. The worst was probably a backhand saucer to no-one by Matt Duchene which took the Avalanche out of their zone and all the way back behind Varlamov. The Avs registered 1-shot on their power play, a weak wrister at the glove from the faceoff dot by Nick Holden, and they were forced to block 2 short handed shot attempts by the Stars. Gross.
In the moments after the power play, the Avalanche gave up a breakaway to Cody Eakin when he beat Tyson Barrie like a rented mule at the blueline. Varlamov gave him very little to shoot at and Eakin missed wide. A few shifts later Nathan MacKinnon carried the puck in offsides and was promptly blown up from behind by a Dallas player after the whistle. No one seemed to care or react.
With 7:30 seconds left in the second period Tyson Barrie tried to go coast to coast on the Stars but found himself forced out wide by the Stars defense. He mustered a bad angle shot and then skated behind the Stars net giving the Stars an odd man rush the other way. Jason Spezza flew up center ice and gave the puck to Ales Hemsky on the right wing. Hemsky froze Jan Hejda at the Avs blueline as Spezza skated deeper into the Avs zone, then Hemsky completed the give-and-go and fed Spezza all alone in front of the Avs net. Varlamov was quick with the blocker to deny Spezza.
With 2:30 left in the period, this absolute snoozer, stretch pad fest of a game finally showed a little bit of spunk, as Gabe Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon laid a pair of punishing hits on Stars players deep in the Avs zone and took the puck the other way with speed. O'Reilly slung his team leading 2nd shot of the night at the Dallas net and created a nice rebound for his linemates but neither could get a stick on the puck. the O'Reilly line continued their strong shift until one forward sent a no-look weak pass to the slot which was completely devoid of Avalanche players, leading to as easy clear. Moments later the Duchene line came on and did the exact same thing.
Just when it looked like the Avalanche might escape their second disastrous 4 shot period of the night, Nate Guenin ensured that they would not. While setting up the breakout, Guenin analyzed the entire 200 ft x 85 ft sheet and fired the puck directly at the nearest Stars forward. Ales Hemsky took the Guenin pass off the shin, drove the net and on the now 2-on-1 opportunity fed Erik Cole all alone in the slot. Cole beat Varlamov with another perfect shot, and put the Stars up 2-0 with 51 seconds left in the period. Guenin lay on the ice and covered his head in shame after the turnover. It's good that he knows he made the mistake there, since coach Patrick Roy will conveniently overlook it.
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Through 40 minutes of play the Avalanche had 8 shots on net. 1 shot every 5 minutes. Barrie, Duchene, Iginla, Tanguay, and Landeskog all with 0 shots through 2 periods.
The third period resumed with the same cripplingly slow pace of the first two with lots of neutral zone play and stretch passes. When the Avalanche did finally get an offensive cycle 2 minutes into the period, Alex Tanguay drew a hooking penalty from Trevor Daley and put the Avalanche back on the "man differential." The Avalanche registered 0 shots on net during the 2:00. Their best "chance" came off a a Jarome Iginla slapshot from the point which missed the net by at least 3 feet.
With 13:38 left in the game, Ryan O'Reilly won an offensive zone faceoff to Nick Holden, who slid the puck across to Brad Stuart. Stuart missed the net short side and the puck deflected out in front off the end boards where O'Reilly lost his man and was driving the net. O'Reilly drove through with his stick on the ice and beat Lehtonen to the post putting the Avs back within 1.
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The next minute featured a disastrous shift in the defensive zone from the Duchene line with Barrie and Guenin. Multiple turnovers and lost battles gave way to a handful of good looks for the Stars, but Varlamov made the saves. They left the ice but on their next shift showed some seriosu life for the first time in the period. With just under 11:00 left in the period and Alex Tanguay forechecking, Matt Duchene made a great play at the blueline to disrupt the Stars and lead Jarome Iginla into the zone. Iginla fed Tanguay on the far side, who had a great chance but was stopped by Lehtonen.
After that the game started to open up again. First a good chance for the O'Reilly line with a shot in close from Ryan O'Reilly, then a breakaway for the Stars as Roussell stepped around Nate Guenin. Guenin recovered well to disrupt the breakaway with his stick from behind. Moments later Nathan MacKinnon got a rush down the right side 1-on-1, but at the end of his shift, he couldn't do more than take a wrist shot from a distance.
As score effects took hold, the Avs spent more and more time in the Stars zone, but with very few whistles time ticked away too quickly for comfort. Things looked good for the Avalanche at the 6:20 mark when MacKinnon danced through the entire Stars defense and created a good shooting lane for himself, but fired the puck wide of the net. When the Stars went the other way they created a number of turnovers and caught the Avalanche chasing in their own zone, eventually sending Zach Redmond to the box for the second time when he slashed and broke a Dallas forward's stick in front of the net.
The Avalanche did well to kill the penalty, and Patrick Roy showed some faith in the rookie Dennis Everberg, by putting him on the ice for the first shift of this late and crucial penalty kill. The Avalanche brought the puck the other way after the penalty, but couldn't create any meaningful chances. On the Stars first major counter attack with 2:30 remaining, Zach Redmond lay on the ice to block a 2-on-1 pass and disrupted the play with his face. Redmond rolled off the puck and allowed the Stars a few extra chances when the refs didn't blow the whistle despite his bleeding face.
With the goalie pulled the Avalanche turned the puck over at the redline, but Dennis Everberg dove to block a shot for the empty net, then battled in his own zone to steal the puck back from a Stars forward and protect the net. In the final 70 seconds the Avalanche were phenomenal, overloading the front of the net, providing great puck support, and dishing the puck quickly while cycling. Ryan O'Reilly and Tyson Barrie quarterbacked the 6-on-5, controlling the play for the Avalanche and setting up a barrage of shots from the point for Tyson Barrie and Nick Holden.
With 20 seconds left in the game, O'Reilly fired the puck on net, grabbed his rebound and skated behind the net where he passed to Landeskog at the half-boards who dished the point one last time for Tyson Barrie who fired the puck low on net and through the legs of Dennis Everberg and Kari Lehtonen to tie the game at 2. Once again Everberg will not receive a point, but it's the second empty net tying goal in the last two weeks which he has provided a massive screen for.
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The Avs first good chance in overtime came halfway through OT when Nathan MacKinnon protected the puck with his body and skated through three Stars players before taking a quick shot on net. No luck. With 2:00 left in the period the Stars had a pair of great chances, the first was absolutely denied by some outstanding positional defense by Jan Hejda, taking away time and space from the Dallas forward until they ran out of real estate in front. The second came from Tyler Seguin, who, on a set play faceoff win from Jamie Benn received a pass off his skate and kicked it to his blade for a great one-timer absorbed by Varlamov.
In the final minute Matt Duchene finally registered his first shot of the night after making a speed move around the Dallas defenders and forcing himself in close on Lehtonen's glove. Duchene couldn't beat Lehtonen low and the rebound slipped away from him behind the net. The Avalanche had a few more good shots from the point by Tyson Barrie in the final 30 seconds, but nothing dangerous enough to beat Lehtonen.
Spezza - STOP: Started fast, slowed up, lots of side to side and denied by Varlamov with the pad.
MacKinnon - SCORE: Slow, lots of stick work, faked the shot with a left skate pop, then deked right and scores.
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Seguin - SCORE: Came in quick, beat Varlamov clean with a laser wrister
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Duchene - STOP: Very quick forehand backhand move but Lehtonen got him with the glove
Benn - STOP: Swung out wide tried for the wrister, Varlamov stopped him
Tanguay - STOP: Tried to repeat Duchene's move slower, stopped by the glove
Fiddler - STOP: Forehand backhand, huge glove save by Varly
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O'Reilly - STOP: Wide right, corssed over to the forehand side, beat Lehtonen but not the post
Klingberg - STOP: Came in very fast, stretched Varlamov but missed the net
Iginla - STOP: Tried to sneak it 5-hole. No go
Eaves - STOP: Wrister low glove side, missed the net
Barrie - STOP: Fake forehand to backhand, Lehtonen with the pad
Horcoff - STOP: Wrister blocker side. Stopped by the blocker
Mitchell - STOP: Tried to move to backhand then quick back to forehand wrister, stopped by the blocker
Roussel - SCORE: Moved to the forehand and beat Varlamov over the pad and under the glove
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Briere - SCORE: Big fake and wrister off the post and in
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Sceviour - SCORE: Bobbled the puck, recovered and went to the backhand to beat Varly.
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Landeskog - SCORE: Forsberg move and tripped over Lehtonen into the net. Mass of in-net humanity.
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Cole - STOP: I don't even know I'm stressed. He didn't score.
Redmond - STOP: Wrist shot high and wide
Hemsky - STOP: Wrister short side, beaten by Varlamov's blocker
Talbot - SCORE AND WIN: Skated to the right dot, cut across and wrist shot off the post and in.
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MHH Three Celestial Beings of the Game:
1. Semyon Varlamov - Held his team in it. Stopped 30 of 32 and a whole bunch more in the shootout.
2. Ryan O'Reilly - 2nd in SOG with 4 and the team's offensive catalyst with 1G 1A
3. Dennis Everberg - Two game saving plays with the net empty plus a big screen on the tying goal
Honorable Mention: Barrie with late tying goal and MacKinnon with a team-high 5 SOG
Next Up: The Stadium Series preview game, as the Avalanche head home to Denver to take on the Red Wings on Thursday night.