Tonight the Avs take on the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are tops in Atlantic Division. Tampa Bay leads the NHL with 149 goals entering the game; I would set the over/under on shots at 45 for the hosts.
Let’s get to it!
A grand total of 31 seconds into the game the Avs take a silly penalty (Jan Hejda for hooking), and Ryan Callahan cashes in with about 30 seconds left in the penalty on a rush into the zone and a great pass from Alex Killorn. We’ll just ignore the defender standing in no mans land. Before the people in St. Petersburg are settled in their seats, it’s 1-0 to the home team.
Altitude remind us that the Avs 4-8-5 in the opening 17 games, which submarined any playoff chances. That said, it does remind the audience that if they earned a few more points during that stretch, they’d be right in it now.
The teams trade rushes up the ice without much end product, Bishop makes a nice save on Johnson while Varly is called upon a few times.
It appears the Avs are back on level terms!
Duchene gained the zone with his skizzils, finds Stuart entering the zone, Stuart takes a shot from inside the blue line that’s finds the back of the net. Alas, the refs wave it off for goalie interference, as Jarome Iginla wasn’t being nice to the opposing goalie.
The game deteriorates; Alex Tanguay almost gets a 2-on-1 chance but he can’t corral the puck.
The Avs are doing well in defense shockingly, with Erik Johnson obviously being the major reason. Excellent stick work and carrying the puck by EJ early on.
Lightning get a bit of possession with Steven Stamkos, but again the Avs quickly clear. Lighting get a chance on a beautiful pass up the ice but Varly makes a big save.
Tampa is really starting to take control now, more possession and chances. With the first period winding down, Iginla and Callahan get into a scrap.
After Period 1 it is 1-0 Tampa. The Avs hung in for a while, but the last few minutes were all Lightning. This could get ugly in a hurry. Shots are 15-5 Tampa, right on track for the 45.
A few whistles to open the period, and then the Avs score!
Nice possession on the zone, a great slap pass to Ryan O’Reilly, who jukes Ben Bishop gets a few chances at it and puts the puck into the back of the net. Nice to see O’Reilly being aggressive in the offensive zone, hasn’t been enough of that. And a sick pass by Nathan Mackinnon. Just like that, it’s 1-1 and a brand new hockey game.
A few more whistles and the Avs are right back in the offensive zone bothering Bishop. Unfortunately it was Cody McCloud at the end of the chance and it goes by.
The Lightning settle down six minutes into the period and have a period of pressure in the Avs the end. Colorado blocks about five shots in a minute span, sparing Varly of having to make a save.
Game settles down for a very long time, until Duchene gets a pair of great chances in front of the net. He did a great job of creating space in front, but as the way his season has gone, is denied by Bishop both times.
Teams trade rushes back and forth for a while without a quality chance on goal. Duchene and Barrie have chances from out wide.
The Avs get a great opportunity with about 40 seconds left, as Danny Briere finds Marc-Andre Cliche all alone in front of the net, but Bishop is there again with a nice glove save.
After the second period it’s 1-1. Very good period by the Avs, Tampa Bay did not appear threatening for long portions and the Avs had a bit of extra speed in their skates. The Avs now lead in shot total 25-24: Holy smokes that was quick.
This is anyone’s game, folks.
Lightning start out the period well, using the entire offensive zone to create space and connect on passes. Soon enough, it leads to a goal.
Anton Stralman takes a shot from the point that Varly doesn’t see and it finds its way into the cage. 2-1 Lightning with less than 16 minutes left in the game.
Tampa Bay continues to dominate, and get a 3-on-1 after a turnover in the defensive ends by the Avs.
Johnson leads a rush up the ice and has his backhanded effort saved by Bishop. Mackinnon and O’Reilly almost combine on a beautiful goal, but the puck rolls away. Ten minutes left and time is running out.
Avs are starting to sustain a bit of pressure and are rewarded with a power play with 7:34 left. This would be a nice time to get a power play goal.
But no. The struggles continue despite some nice work by Duchene and a soccer move by Tyson Barrie.
As soon as the power play expires, Tampa Bay takes a really bad penalty, giving the Avs another chance at tying the game up.
But no. Little movement, settling for shots from outside. I’m a little surprised Roy didn’t pull the goalie to create a 6-on-4 situation out of desperation.
Varly does go to the bench with about two minutes left, Avs keep the puck in the zone for a minute straight with some chances at the net. They continue to huff and puff, and MacKinnon cashes in scores with seven seconds left!
Shades of 2013-2014 with that one! We are headed to overtime! Shots are 37-29 Avalanche.
Not a lot of excitement in the opening minutes, Stamkos has a shot from out wide, the Avs come back with a few chances. Stuart almost kicks it into his own net with about 90 seconds.
Avs spurn a great chance with Landeskog waiting an ice age to pull the trigger. Landy does draw a penalty with 24 seconds left in overtime, and obviously that isn’t going to end with a goal and we are going to a shootout. Shots are 42-31 Avs.
Nikita Kucherov scores the opener for Tampa, Mackinnon has his shot saved. Palat has his shot saved by Varlamov, Duchene is very patient and beats Bishop top shelf. 1-1 after two rounds.
Callahan makes it look easy beating Varlamov, and Alex Tanguay misses. Lightning win 3-2 in a shootout.
3. Nathan Mackinnon: Speed evident early and often
2. Erik Johnson: Drew tough assignments, performed admirably against a top offense
1. Ryan O’Reilly: Played very well on both ends of the ice
A not so bad first period, an awesome second period and a meh third period. MacKinnon, Duchene and O’Reilly all had their moments on offense, and this was a coin flip game that could have gone either way. Just been that type of season and the team has a point for playing a pretty good hockey game.
Next up is a date with the Blues on Monday.