Whew, what a wild ride. The Avalanche pulled off a crucial victory against a very solid team. Here’s how it went down:
The game started off very physical. Zadorov especially had some big hits, laying out Jamie Benn on one occasion (and Benn’s no small guy). The ice definitely had some issues, which fortunately messed up Benn a bit on a breakaway and Bernier made the stop.
Dallas had started to turn the tide, but some nice couple of plays by Tyson Jost got things going again for the Avs. Soon after, Kerfoot put on the jets, embarrassed John Klingberg, and beat Bishop stick-side to put the Avs on the board.
Unfortunately, Zadorov tripped Radulov and the Stars trotted out the power play unit. However, the penalty kill showed us again why their #3 in the league and held Dallas to only one shot. The Stars finished the period with a few scary chances, but fortunately, they turned it over, and the clock wore down to 0. Avalanche 1, Stars, 0.
From the onset, this period started off with a bang. Colorado had a great couple of plays led by Nathan MacKinnon that resulted in Bishop covering the puck. A bit of chaos ensued, but no penalties were handed out. After this, the Avalanche were playing very aggressively. And then Greg Pateryn made a really dirty play, cross-checking MacKinnon into the boards resulting in a minor penalty. It looked for a bit like Mac was hurt, but fortunately, he returned for the powerplay. However, the Avs only registered one shot on goal and ran out of time on the penalty.
Then came some controversy. Ben Bishop went around the back of the net to play the puck, and Comeau came behind him to poke the puck. Bishop fell down, and the puck came to Soderberg and he shot it in the empty net from a really tough angle. Dallas challenged for goalie interference, and the goal was overturned because of “significant contact.” What Comeau did was technically illegal under rule 69.4, as the announcers noted. However, Bishop was so out of position that it wouldn’t have mattered if he was hit or not. Plus it looked to me like he embellished the play.
Soon after Bernier stops a few dangerous chances, but lets one in on a Jamie Benn rebound shot. That goal would’ve been really hard to stop, so it’s hard to pin it on Bernier. The Avs were looking to regain the lead, and Kerfoot set up Jost beautifully but Bishop absolutely robbed him. Jost looked pretty frustrated after that play, and I can’t blame him.
The Stars had a breakaway chance at the end of the period, and Nemeth caught up and slashed the player and went to the penalty box for 2:00. Right after the penalty, the period ended.
Bernier looked sharp, and the Avs managed to kill it off. Nemeth touched the puck with one foot in the box and was called for interference. Why is that a penalty? Oh well, Colorado killed that one off too, but mostly because of Bernier’s unbelievable play. Zadorov and Kerfoot made a great play to get the puck to MacKinnon for a 1-on-1. Mac shot five-hole and scored, putting the Avs on top. They started to really come out hard after that goal, and Dallas appeared to be on their heels.
However, Dallas started to get the momentum and took it to them. Suddenly though the Avs put on the pressure and end up with a 2-on-1, and Comeau scores on the play.
Not much time is left, and the game looks to be sealed. With about 1:30 left in the game, the Stars pull Ben Bishop. The Avs ice the puck, and chaos ensues. Blake Comeau and Mattias Janmark leave the game, and Erik Johnson goes to the box for roughing. The Stars now have 6 skaters to the Avalanche’s 4, and proceed to pepper Bernier with shots. Bernier channels a brick wall and lets nothing in. He then goes to play the puck, getting it to Nemeth, who passes to Barberio. He shoots the puck high in the air to have it bounce awkwardly into the empty net. The remaining seconds bleed down to leave the Avs with a critical 4-1 divisional win.
- Bernier was clearly the best player on the ice tonight and is continually looking exceptional in Varlamov’s absence. Which begins to beg the question: if Bernier continues to play this well, will he hold the starting spot even when Varly returns?
- The Avs certainly did not look flat coming out of the break. This was exactly the kind of start they needed to get things going. This was their sixth-straight win, and not only are they in the midst of the playoff conversation, they look like the hottest team in the league right now. The Avalanche looks like they can legitimately compete with any team, having now beat the Stars, Wild, Blue Jackets, Jets, Islanders, and Maple Leafs. All of these teams are in a playoff spot except the Islanders (and they are in the mix). This shows that they can compete with anybody, and that is extremely promising for not only now but for the future.
- Kerfoot followed up a two-point night against Minnesota with another two-point game tonight. He now has 29 on the season and looks like an up-and-coming star for the Avs.
The Colorado Avalanche take on the Anaheim Ducks at the Pepsi Center, 1:00 Mountain Time.