Well if you are like me and still watch the Avalanche in all their misery yesterday was a nice present. The Avalanche came into the game searching for their first back to back victories since January 14th and 18th but at the start it didn’t look likely. The Blue Jackets struck first when who else but Rick Nash made the Avs defense look silly, what a surprise, and put it past Brian Elliott’s left pad to give the Jackets a 1-0 lead. Than a couple minutes later a few rare things happened. First Matt Hunwick skated around multiple Blue Jackets and made an awesome drop pass to Kevin Porter, then Porter shot a hard shot at Steve Mason, and Ryan O’Reilly, who is suddenly a scorer, put the rebound into the back of the net. The Avalanche finished the first up 13 shots to 5 but the game was tied 1-1.
The second period was all Blue Jackets as the Avalanche were seemingly falling into the losers mentality we have all become accustomed to. Throughout the second Columbus out shot Colorado 15 to 4 but the only goal game on the Avalanche powerplay. Unfortunately for the Avalanche it was against them as Derek MacKenzie scored a short-handed goal to give the BJs a 2-1 lead. Although the Jackets maintained pressure the rest of the period they were unable to crack another goal and at the second intermission the score was 2-1.
The third was were things got fun, and early on as I watched felt sickening. Things had seemed promising when the Avs got a PP about five minutes into the 3rd and had their chance to tie it. Unfortunately AGAIN the Bjs scored a shortie this time by RJ Umberger and suddenly the Jackets were up two. Unlike the Avalanche games of late this time the Avalanche finally fought back. They kept the pressure on and it paid off. The line of Mark Olver-Matt Duchene-Daniel Winnik were able to score two goals in seven minutes, Duchene the scorer of both goals, and tie the game. Two minutes after Duchene’s second goal RJ Umberger scored his second to re-take the lead for the BJs with only three minutes remaining. Credit to the Avalanche for keeping the pressure on when they are in such a grim position but they did and once again they fought back. With about twenty seconds remaining, and the goalie pulled, Jan Hejda received a delay of game penalty to give the Avs a 6 on 4 powerplay. With seven seconds left Matt Duchene won a huge faceoff, which Paul Stastny tipped back to Erik Johnson. Johnson then laced a shot which went on net and bounced right to Winnik’s stick who buried it to tie the game with 3 seconds remaining. From there Brian Elliott saved the day in OT and allowed nothing in the shootout, which the Avalanche won thanks to Milan Hejduk’s SO goal.
Despite the Avalanche season being over this game did have huge implications. Due to a wager I made with Mary O’Malley from Fire That Cannon she had to change her blog picture on Twitter to a picture I sent to her. If I would’ve lost Mile High Sticking’s twitter pic would have been of a distraught Yeti.
- Milan Hejduk was playing in his 900th game, all with the Avalanche. Playing in your 900th game and being the hero of said game sounds pretty awesome to me.
- Matt Duchene continued his hot streak with two goals. He now has 8 points over his last 5 games.
- One more on Duchene: he surpassed his goal number from last season with his second goal.
- Another amazing stat from Matt Duchene: He won 16 out of 21 face offs last night.
- Daniel Winnik and Mark Olver are likely going to be paired with Duchene for the rest of the season. Those three guys work magic together, and I hope Olver is here to stay.
- Stastny and Erik Johnson were both a -3 on the game due to being on the ice for both SHG but played well. It seems like every shot Johnson takes from the point reaches the net.
- Ryan O’Reilly scored his 9th goal of the season, one better than last season, and his 4 goals in March is the most goals in one month of his young career.
- Rick Nash
- Ryan O’Reilly
- Derek MacKenzie (SHG)
- RJ Umberger (SHG)
- Matt Duchene
- Matt Duchene
- RJ Umberger
- Daniel Winnik (PPG)
- Milan Hejduk (SO)
Next Game: The Avalanche host the Maple Leafs on Thursday. Enough of the winning boys we need that top pick!