For the first time since mid December, the Avalanche looked like a top NHL team. In yesterday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks, the Avalanche looked a team in mid-playoff form. However, for the 5th straight game the Avs come out on the losing side.
From the opening faceoff the Avalanche looked like the better team yesterday at Pepsi Center. They had more energy and seemed to get to the loose pucks quicker than that of their counterparts. Even with this energy, Vancouver found a way to get on the board first. Ryan Kesler let a shot rip from high in the slot to score the game’s first goal. Kesler was able to get open because only four of the Avalanche players on the ice had a stick. This created an odd man opportunity deep in Vancouver’s offensive zone in which they capitalized on quickly.
Colorado did not sulk about giving up an early goal. Instead they kept pressing the puck up ice and eventually found themselves on the right end of a power play opportunity. With the man advantage, Paul Stastny found a wide-open David Jones who had the entire net staring right back at him. Jones buried the puck to tie the game at one goal apiece.
Riding their momentum from the first period, the Avalanche continued to apply pressure in their offensive zone. Vancouver net-minder, Roberto Luongo, went to poke check a rebound away but ended up putting the puck right onto Jay McClement’s stick. At near point blank range, McClement gave Colorado a one-goal advantage.
This game had all the feelings of a playoff game from the start. Numerous Avalanche players were sacrificing their bodies by going down to block shots. J.S. Giguere seemed to only get stronger after allowing an early first period early goal. But the play of Gabriel Landeskog seemed to outshine every other player on the ice.
Landeskog stuck his nose into numerous scrums by coming to the aide of his goalie or teammate. He had a career high nine shots on goal. He even sustained a vicious collision into the end boards after driving to the net and getting his skates taken out from under him. Not only was the fact that Landeskog even got up from that hit unbelievable, but he also stayed on the ice for an extra shift. Now if that does not exemplify the mindset of the Avalanche players, I do not know what will.
Going into the third period with the lead was a great feeling for the Avalanche. Too many times this season they have found themselves playing from behind when going into the final frame. But in this game the Avs held onto the lead for about one minute too short. After Kevin Bieksa made a diving save to prevent an empty net goal, his shot through traffic ended up being the equalizer of the game. Once again Giggy fell victim to a nasty shot that was screened by one Canuck and two Avalanche defensemen.
After a scoreless overtime session it was time to head to the shootout. Colorado fans felt that the Avs had this game in the bag because neither one of the Sedin twins were slated to take the ice during the shootout. However, Canuck Mason Raymond scored the lone goal of the shootout and won the game for Vancouver.
Overall the Avalanche played a very hard fought game. Their work ethic and sense of urgency really showed throughout the course of the game. There is not too much to say otherwise about their performance. Vancouver caught some lucky breaks, capitalized on them and snuck out of Pepsi Center with a win that really should not have been theirs. Now the Avs turn their focus to the Chicago Blackhawks who come to town on Tuesday. The only thing Colorado really needs to focus on for Tuesday’s game is to finish. The Avs were mere seconds away from coming away with a victory yesterday. This now only makes it that much more difficult for Toews and the Hawks to come out of Denver with a victory.
- (G) Giguere COL
- (G) Luongo VAN
- (L) Landeskog COL
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