The Colorado Avalanche found their offensive stride as they routed the Los Angeles Kings last night at Pepsi Center. It was a breath of fresh air to see the Avs outskate another opponent this season and even more refreshing that the Avs outskated a team that they are chasing for the last playoff spot.
The Kings were coming off a back-to-back road trip series where they lost a devastating game against the Coyotes the night before. Finally, Colorado got to take advantage of a tired team.
From the opening faceoff fans were treated to the play of newly acquired forward Steve Downie. Downie was on the starting line and from the opening drop, went full-bore. His physical play really got the momentum on the side of the Avalanche. It was even noted that Downie plays like it is a playoff game each and every night by finishing off his checks.
The physical play was followed with finesse as Mark Olver found the back of the net first scoring on a perfect one-timer he took from David Jones. The Avs cycled the puck well deep in the Kings’ zone and their hard work paid off. This marks Olver’s second goal in just his three appearances this season.
The goals just snowballed from there for Colorado. Stastny got in on the scoring spree next. After “double fisting” deep in the zone, Stastny intercepted a pass that he turned into a wrap around goal, giving the Avs a two-goal lead.
Colorado scored their third goal on a breakout play that was awesome from start to end. Ryan O’Reilly pushed the puck up ice, along the left wing and created a perfect three-on-two. Upon reaching the top of the faceoff circles, O’Reilly made a cross ice pass which got redirected by Jay McClement and rung off the post increasing Colorado’s lead to 3-0.
Stastny scored his second goal of the night midway through the second on a beautiful setup that Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog created with their hard-nosed play. Forcing the puck down low yet again, Stastny was in the right place at the right time making Colorado’s lead 4-0.
Semyon Varlamov showed up ready to play last night, looking like the goalie Colorado hoped they acquired after giving up a first and second round pick for him. Varly held a shutout until the 4:35 mark of the third period at which time Drew Doughty let a laser fly from the blue line, which rang off of the crossbar thus ending Varlamov’s quest for a shutout victory.
Granted the Avalanche scored four goals, they did have some issues defensively. Varlamov had to make some awesome saves to keep the Avs out front. If Colorado can tighten up their defense, they very well could be a dangerous team. There were some questionable passes and puck handling that easily could have tipped the momentum into the Kings’ favor. One play that comes to mind is when Colorado was on a power play and gave the puck away in the neutral zone against a lone Kings defender, creating a breakaway chance when L.A. was shorthanded.
The Avalanche now travel to Columbus and Detroit for a back-to-back road series starting on Friday. Some good news for the Avs is that Rick Nash may be gone by the time Colorado comes into town. The Blue Jackets are the worst team in the NHL and the push for Nash has begun. Hopefully the Avalanche are not looking forward to their date with Detroit and take care of business in Columbus.
- (G) Varlamov COL
- (C) Stastny COL
- (D) Hejda COL
Like what you read here? Then like it on Facebook here.