The Avalanche played 48 games this season before going to a single shootout, the longest such streak in the league. They made it count, with captain Gabriel Landeskog scoring on Colorado's first attempt and goalie Semyon Varlamov making three straight saves to seal the victory.
Tonight's story was outstanding goalie play from both sides. You could tell from the get-go each team was going to have a difficult time scoring on either Varlamov or Blues' goalie, Brian Elliot. Each netminder made a number of breathtaking saves on primo scoring chances. St. Louis would have eight hi-danger area chances in the first frame alone: . But the buzzer would sound with the score tied at zero.
The 2nd Period would be more of the same: back-and-forth, great scoring chances, and nothing to show for it. That is until 17:57 into the period when Carl Soderberg attempted to clear a puck in the defensive zone, hit Troy Brouwer, and watched as it landed in his possession. He dished then it to Alexander Steen, who one-timed it at the net. Varlamov got there, and even got his pads on it, but the puck trickled across the line through the five-hole, putting the Blues up 1-0 (Video).
The Avs thought they had finally put the puck in the net in the 3rd Period after a scramble around the net, but a referee skated in from the back side and waived it off after the puck had crossed the line. After a review it was determined the referee, with no view of the play, had "intent to blow the whistle" on a puck that was clearly not covered -- and therefore no goal. The team protested and the home crowd was apoplectic, but the goal would remain waived off.
With about 2:00 remaining, and the Avalanche still down 1-0, Patrick Roy pulled his goalie for an extra attacker. After pounding the net repeatedly with shots, Tyson Barrie ended up with the puck below the left circle. He skated back toward the blue line and found Matt Duchene across the ice. Duchene held the puck for just a moment before sending it back across again (abetted by a well-timed Francois Beauchemin stick-lift) to Nathan MacKinnon, who buried the game-tying goal with just 54 seconds left on the clock (Video). The game would go into overtime, and true to form, neither goalie would allow a goal in the 3-on-3 session despite a number of great chances.
Colorado would go to its first shootout of the season, and Landeskog wasted no time getting on the board, scoring on a backhand during the first chance for either team (Video). MacKinnon and Duchene would fail to do the same, but they didn't have to. Varlamov, brilliant all night, stopped Steen, Tarasenko, and Brouwer in succession to earn the victory (Video).
Colorado climbs to just one point again behind the Minnesota for 4th in the Central Divsion, while St. Louis pulls to within one of Dallas for 2nd. Colorado will travel to play the Stars tomorrow night.
- Semyon Varlamov - The Avs goalie held St. Louis to just one goal on 34 shots. Then he blanked them in the shootout. Two of those saves were just extraordinary.
- Tyson Barrie/Nick Holden - In Erik Johnson's absence, these two have been major factors in the Avalanche's improved defense. Tonight was arguably their best game yet. Plus-16 CF for Holden 5v5 to lead the team, and Plus-12 for Barrie -- along with his great assist on the game tying goal.
- Carl Soderberg - He's earning his free agent contract every night right now. Overpay my ass. More Carl!
- Brian Elliot - Tip of the hat to the opposing goalie. Really great work tonight.
- Whistle-happy Referees - If you have zero view of the puck out in front of the goalie, let the other guy make the call -- period. This could have been costly tonight. Thankfully, it wasn't.
- Jarome Iginla - Minus-8 CF in just 9:30 of 5v5 ice time. Would anybody blame this guy if he needed a night off once a week? I'd rather have him with fresher legs occasionally than what we're seeing right now.