Last night the Colorado Avalanche got a taste of what playoff hockey would be like and from the looks of the final scoreboard they did not like what was served. The Avalanche dropped what was a must-win game in Denver last night to the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins. The loss leaves the Avs still three points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Avalanche came out firing with some heavy offensive pressure as soon as the puck dropped. The Avalanche had two great scoring chances within the opening minute of the game. But again Colorado faced a goaltender that was on his game.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 35 of the 36 shots he faced last night against the Avalanche. Fleury is a main cog in the Penguin organization and last night’s performance exemplified that. Making some remarkable saves really helped his team put this game away early.
Fleury’s counterpart, J.S. Giguere, was not as lucky to gain that early confidence. At the midway point of the first period, the Avalanche net minder allowed a second goal, giving the Penguins a two-goal advantage. A two-goal deficit is hard to come back from in the first place, but against the Penguins it is next to impossible. In fact, those two goals proved to be all Pittsburgh needed to secure the win, but scored three more goals before the game was over, making the final score 5-1 in favor of the Pens.
Mike Hunwck was the lone goal scorer for Colorado with Paul Stastny and Rookie of the Month Gabriel Landeskog earning the assists. Hunwick has made his presence felt scoring his second goal in the last five games he has played in. Landeskog has also been on fire recording his 23rd assist on the season coming on the eve of being named the NHL Rookie of the Month for the month of February.
The Avalanche now take on the Wild in the first of a home and home series starting tonight in Minnesota. The Wild and the Avalanche have some heated blood between them and with Colorado fighting for a playoff spot and Minnesota looking to get on a hot-streak to make up ground, tonight’s contest should be a good one. Minnesota is currently 4-points behind the Avs with 66 and would love nothing more than to beat the Avalanche in both of the upcoming games to close in on the eighth and final spot.
The problem the Avs face is that this is a game that comes on a tail end of a back-to-back and is one where they had to travel after a hard fought game last night. Usually these games take a toll on the Avalanche and they end up performing at a rather sub-par level. Hopefully tonight Colorado got some rest on the flight and is ready to come out of Minnesota with their first win in March.
1) (C) Malkin PIT
2) (R) Asham PIT
3) (D) Orpik PIT
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