The Colorado Avalanche get another bittersweet victory at Pepsi Center last night posting 7 goals on the Minnesota Wild. The demolition of the Wild is overshadowed, however, by the ankle injury to winger Matt Duchene. Duchene tweaked his right ankle on a freak play in which the puck got tangled up in his skates and his right skate caught the toe of Nick Palmieri’s skate causing Duchene’s edge to stick in the ice, thus causing the injury. The extent of the injury is still yet to be determined, but Duchene will be out of Thursday’s matchup with Nashville.
Focusing back on the positives of last night, the Avalanche exploded for 7 goals and move into a 3-way tie with San Jose and Los Angeles for the 8th playoff spot in the West. The first period started rather lethargically with the Avs being lulled into the play of the Wild, but Colorado still scored one goal to ride a 1-0 cushion into the first intermission.
The second period is when the Avalanche flexed their offensive muscle. Colorado exploded for 4 goals in the period and forced Minnesota to yank their goalie, Matt Hackett, about three-quarters of the way through the period. The floodgates opened when the Wild’s worst nightmare, Jamie McGinn, scored at the 10:53 mark in the second. McGinn scored the only two goals in Minnesota during the first game of this home and home, and scored another last night along with notching an assist later in the game.
Semyon Varlamov went 5 total periods without allowing a goal from the Wild. In fact, the only blemish that went against Varly was a penalty shot from Devin Setoguchi that beat Varlamov on the stick side. Aside from that, Varlamov continued to make save after save only getting stronger as the game progressed. If there was a goalie controversy in Denver before the game, Varlamov seemed to pretty much put an end to those talks with his current play.
The other main storyline from last night is the playoff race that is becoming one for the ages. Currently there are 5 teams that are separated by 3 points covering spots 7th through 11th place. Last night, aside from the shellacking that took place at Pepsi Center, all of the teams that are vying for a playoff spot were in action. That only made last night that much more enjoyable as an Avalanche fan. The scoreboard watching has begun and will only get more intense as the regular season starts to fade away and give way to the glitzy postseason.
Colorado is going to try and make the injury to Matt Duchene seem like a minor speed bump going down the stretch. With plenty of depth and talent, the Avalanche can pull off a late season run without him. But, in order to advance in the playoffs, the Avs need Duchene healthy. The injury will be a blow to the team, but if the Avs can continue to ride the momentum they have started, the Pepsi Center will play host to some playoff hockey once again.
1) (L) Landeskog COL
2) (L) McGinn COL
3) (R) Downie COL
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