1st Period: Nearly halfway into the first portion of tonight's hockey match, Stars defenseman Johnny Oduya took a shot from the near boards that was most definitely going to miss the net to Varlamov's left. The issue was that there happened to be a crowd of hockey persons directly in the path of the shot, one of which was Avs defenseman Tyson Barrie. The puck hit the inside of Barrie's knee, and deflected into the net making it 1-0 Dallas. A highly unfortunate goal, but you're thinking, "Okay, one soft one isn't the end of the world. Our hockey persons have an abundance of time to make up for it." Ha! No. A couple minutes later the hockey persons contracted by the franchise based in the city of Dallas made it 2-0 via Brett Richie scoring on a power play. Things would not improve as Patrick Eaves got a power play goal of his own in the final minute of the first period, making it 3-0 Stars after just a third of the game. Studies show... that is not what the hockey persons of Colorado would have liked to have done.
2nd Period: The Avalanche played a second period that did not go as badly as the first did, because doing that would have been almost impossible. Colorado chipped away at the Stars' lead in shorthanded fashion thanks to some good ole fashioned hard work from Andreas Martinsen, as he was able to pry away the puck from a Stars defenseman and feed Nathan MacKinnon for his third goal of the season.
3rd Period: Nathan MacKinnon played arguably the greatest period of his NHL career thus far with some dazzlingly beautiful play. He was the biggest part in making this a 3-2 game early in the third after controlling the puck for quite some time and ripping a laser that Mikhail Grigorenko deflected into the net, for his first of the season. MacKinnon and the rest of the Avalanche simply dominated the Stars throughout the end of the game. Karri Lehtonen made some ridiculous saves to keep Dallas in front, and it proved to be enough. The refs weren't any help to Colorado (more on that below), but it kept feeling like the Avs were gonna find a way to tie it, force overtime, and find a way to pull out the comeback. That didn't happen unfortunately, in what amounts to the toughest loss for the Avs to take so far this season.
Mr. Fish's Three Sardines:
#3: AJ Greer: PLEASE, Bednar. I beg of you to keep Greer with the NHL squad even after Duchene and Landeskog are healthy once more and scratch McLeod. That won't happen just because the Avs respect Cody too much for some stupid reason and don't want to embarrass Highlander, but based on playing ability, Greer deserves to be playing with the Avalanche right now and McLeod isn't helping out much. Greer got his first NHL point tonight as he got the secondary assist on Grigorenko's third period goal.
#2: Andreas Martinesen: I don't want to say we should retire the "Bad Andy" nickname because it's one of my favorites, but Martinesen has come such a long way the last year. He's gone from being a 13th forward basically to a starting first liner now. His part in the shorty was all hard work and using his physical play to his advantage. Plenty of reason to be excited about
Bad Andy's long-term prospects.
#1: Nathan MacKinnon: Really gotta think MacKinnon is upset tonight about not getting 2 points. He was without a doubt the best player on the ice from either team. I don't know if he felt like he had to do more than usual with Duchene and Landeskog out, but I hope he plays like this all the time forever. Dallas didn't know what to do to defend him. He was all over the ice, unstoppable, in on almost every Colorado scoring opportunity, and just flat out murdering the Stars defense. More. Please.
Mr. Fish's Three Flounders:
#3: Injuries: Mike Haynes and Peter McNab touched on it in the first period quite well. Matt Duchene, Gabe Landeskog, Patrick Sharp, Ales Hemsky, and Jiri Hudler were all out of this game tonight. Steven Stamkos is hurt, Johnny Gaudreau is injured, Taylor Hall's out for a month, Jack Eichel has been out since before the season started... Yeah, the World Cup of Hockey was cool and we got a hockey a month earlier than usual, but it seems to have taken a toll on some of the players who participated in it. The league's missing some real good talent right now, and that's not what the sport needs.
#2: Nikita Zadorov: Three penalties on Zadorov tonight. Dallas scored on one of them, and the other came with 2:07 left in the third, effectively destroying any chance of Colorado getting an extra-man opportunity at the end of the game to tie things up. All three penalties were rightfully called. What Z did can't be done. It just can't.
#1: The referees: Colorado had six penalties on them tonight. Dallas had one. Now, I just mentioned Zadorov rightfully earned himself six possible penalty minutes. That should have been the only six Colorado had to send a player in the box though. I'm sorry, but what the hell were these zebras looking at? It's not so much the penalties on Colorado I'm mad about, but Mikko Rantanen was either tripped or tackled in the Dallas zone two separate occasions in the final three minutes and the men in black and white swallowed their whistles like a bunch of damned cowards. Call it both ways. Did they put Colorado in a 3-0 deficit by themselves? Of course not. But Dallas did some equally shady things and why they weren't called for it... I don't know.
Just a frustrating loss. Colorado goes to the icebox known as Minnesota to play the Wild on Saturday evening. Until then, this one will sting.