Stop me if you’ve heard this before..
“Avs ride goalie to beat…”
Ok good, so it wasn’t just me.
After a couple of lackluster starts by Craig Anderson, Coach Sacco turned to resident Wings Killer, Peter Budaj, who seems to be (for the most part) on top of his game when the hated Winged Wheel comes to town. Tonight was no exception.
I didn’t have the chance to watch the game, so I relied on the always excitable, often imitated never duplicated Avs Radio man Marc Moser to paint a picture in my mind of the game.
Avs come on hot, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Jimmy Howard. Paul Stastny gets rewarded as a loose puck is lost in Niklas Kronwal’s skates, scooped up by #26 and potted for the games first tally. The lead wouldn’t last long, as the Wings struck a mere 55 seconds later to knot the game at ones. In typical Colorado fashion, it was rookie Jan Mursak’s first in the NHL (how many ‘firsts’ have the Avs given up? anyone have a stat on that?) The Avs were quick back on their game (they would regress, more on that later though) when Tomas Fleischmann took one for the team, as the puck squirted through to Duchene who in turn squirted it through Howard. Avs up 2-1.
Earlier in the day, I talked a bit of trash about Kevin Porter on Twitter. and lo and behold he pots one. Some nice down low play by the third line of Yip and Jones set Porter up in the slot, who got a weak one off and somehow past Jimmy. 3-1 Good Guys.
Matt Duchene thinks 3 goals isn’t enough. He not only a) strips Henrik Zetterberg of the puck but then b) blows by him as he and Flash go in 2 on 1, a little give and go and bang bang bangity bang it’s 4-1 and Dutchy has a deuce.
It doesn’t end there. Two minutes left in a wild first and Brian Rafalski cuts the lead to two goals after Darren Helm feeds him wide open in the slot after both Adam Foote and Ryan Wilson blow their coverage down low. The shot did go through a mess of Avs and Wings in front, so we can’t put the fault entirely on Budaj. We can put it on that Foote/Wilson pairing Sacco just seems to love to throw out in key situations.
Can you believe Duchene has 41 points? us neither. He must have heard and decided to notch it up to 42. He assisted David Jones’ goal as he was at the centre line where a blown red wings shot ended up careening off the glass and all the way out to a streaking Duchene. Another 2 on 1 and another back hand shelf goal for Jonesy. 5-2.
As it’s been so often this season, the Avs get into penalty trouble and the Wings make them pay. Again. I’d break it down, but breaking down two Wings goals on an Avs site is enough to get Warren’s ‘remove writer’ finger itchy, three might be pushing it. 5-3 going into the intermission.
It’s been said that the third can make or break a team and a game. The game is won and lost in the third. (en da turd for our french readers) For the most part, the Avs have either stepped on the gas, or sat back on a lead and more often than not, lost. Tonight was very close to being the latter, as the Avs decided a two goal lead was enough, and sat back and played defensive hockey. Remember earlier in the post where I mentioned Budaj stole the show. This period he really showed his mental toughness. Stopping all but one (pp) Wings goal. The Wings brought the hurt and Boods stood tall. I hate to say it, but the way he’s been playing, he’s warranting the playing time over Craig Anderson, and the way Sacco plays his cards, if Boods is hot, he’ll get he nod.
3- Peter Budaj – great game, stonewalled the third period onslaught, kept the W within sight
2- David Jones – 3 points. Killer on the third line
1- Matt Duchene – c’mon. You thought it was going to be someone else?