The first draft of this game recap was pretty awesome. Just take my word for it, because it's since been deleted. Lots of nice little "Avs cruise to comfortable victory after three-goal 1st Period "-type remarks. A couple of tasteful metaphors, a joke or two -- you know the sort. Unfortunately, Colorado would change that pleasant game narrative on me as they are frequently wont to do. They still won, mind you, just not in the relaxing fashion we'd all prefer. Once again, Patrick Roy's team will be keeping pharmacies busy tomorrow filling prescriptions for heart pills. Get to your nearest Walgreens before the lines.
The first goal of the game was the result of a terrible turnover by Nashville's all-world defense. After Nikita Zadorov -- playing in his first game since returning to the Avs -- skated the puck across the red line and blasted it around the boards, the forecheck of Carl Soderberg and Gabriel Landeskog forced Mattias Ekholm to make a dangerous exit pass through the middle of the ice. Instead of finding a Predators forward on the breakout, he found Blake Comeau, who stole the puck and immediately blasted it home to make the game 1-0 (Video).
The Avalanche would get on the scoreboard again a few minutes later after another fantastic Carl Soderberg play. After beating his defender along the right-hand boards, he drove behind the net and dished the puck out in front of the net to a crashing Landeskog. The first attempt didn't go through, but he was able to stop his momentum in front of goalie Pekke Rinne and squeeze it through on a subsequent attempt, giving the Avs an early 2-0 lead (Video). The goal was the captain's 19th on the season, giving him 49 points in 69 games played.
A minute-and-a-half later, Colorado's other recent call-up Andrew Agozzino skated the puck across the Nashville blue line and passed off the boards to Cody McLeod. He then ripped a shot at the net from inside the circle, which went off Rinne's pads and right to Jack Skille, who put the rebound home for the Avs' third goal of the 1st Period (Video). Skille has now matched the number on his jersey with eight goals on the season.
But Nashville would strike back before the period ended. The puck rebounded hard after a John Mitchell centering attempt and found the stick of Filip Forsberg, who skated past a listless Jarome Iginla backchecking attempt and fired a beautiful cross-ice pass to Craig Smith for his 20th goal on the season (Video).
As lively as the 1st Period was, the 2nd would be devoid of any scoring at all. Shawn Matthias would be the next to score a little more than halfway through the 3rd when Mikkel Boedker stole the puck at mid-ice, passed the puck to himself off the boards, and then swiped it to Matthias, who made one deke and then went bar-down on Rinne to put the Avs up 4-1 (Video) -- a sizeable 3rd Period lead for any normal NHL hockey team.
But as we've seen all season, Colorado is the last team in the league you would trust with a 3rd Period lead. Two minutes later Colton Sissons would score on a tip in front of the net following a Miikka Salomaki blast from the point (Video). And then Romas Josi struck again just 24 seconds later on a similar play, only this time it went in cleanly (Video), drawing the game to 4-3.
The remaining minutes would be a tense affair for both the Avalanche and the poor souls who cheer for their success. Despite a number of poor icings, clearing attempts, and mad scrambles, Colorado would manage to hold on to their one-goal lead and fly out of Nashville with two points toward the standings.
That draws the Avalanche to within three points of Minnesota for the final Wild Card spot. They will play the St. Louis Blues tomorrow night, a team that has not allowed a goal in the past four games. Patrick Roy has announced that Varlamov will get a back-to-back start in net.
- Gabriel Landeskog - With Duchene and MacKinnon still out with knee injuries, Colorado needs their captain's A-game. Tonight they got it. Besides scoring the team's second goal in the 1st Period, he was also Plus-12 CF 5v5 to lead all Avalanche skaters.
- Carl Soderberg - Not far behind was linemate Soderberg who, besides a 1st Period tripping penalty, had another very complete game. He assisted on Landeskog's goal, was Plus-8 CF 5v5, and continues to be indispensable on the penalty kill.
Blake Comeau - Hell, let's go with the whole top line here. It's really not a hard choice to make. Comeau got the Avs on the board first with his 12th goal on the year and was Plus-9 CF 5v5.
Matthias/Grigorenko/Boedker - As good as the other line was, this one was just as bad. Despite scoring what ended up being the game-winning goal, Matthias was as quiet on the ice as he's been in an Avalanche uniform. His game doesn't match that of Boedker, and it will be interesting to see if this line sticks after its one-game experiment. If this is the result we can expect, then I hope not.