Nov 21, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA; Colorado Avalanche forward Cody McLeod (55) celebrates after scoring against Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith (not pictured) in the third period at Arena. The Avalanche defeated the Coyotes 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

What We Learned: Avalanche - Coyotes

What started out as a quiet back-and-forth game with no one really looking comfortable turned into one of the best, most fun games the Avalanche have played so far this season.

It looked like it was going to be business as usual for the Avalanche in the second period when they jumped to a 2-0 lead late in the period. Then a fluky goal from just outside the blue line by Michael Stone changed the momentum. A dominant period from the Coyotes made it look like the game had been lost.

But that’s why you play 60 minutes (or more in this case). Let’s not waste anymore time: here’s what we learned from Thursday’s 4-3 overtime win.

Fighin’ Round The World

It says a lot about a team to pick up a win like that. They controlled the second period for the most part, looking like they had things in hand when Andre Benoit (Balls) finally (!!!) got his first goal as a member of the Avalanche.

That fluke goal near the end of the period seemed to stymie their momentum a bit and it showed when the third period started. The Coyotes were clearly the dominant team throughout the third period and had seemingly tied the game earlier than they actually did, only to have a Martin Hanzal goal waived off. He would pick up the tying goal a bit later and understandably stare down the ref.

So when they picked up a power play goal with just under six minutes to go, it looked like that was it for the Avalanche. All the momentum had swung towards Phoenix and it didn’t look like it was coming back. So for the team to get that huge goal from Cody McLeod to tie it and Ryan O’Reilly ending it in overtime just goes to show the depth and the fight this team has.

We’d all love every game to be 5-1 blowouts that feel easy from the start, but being able to grab wins like these are just as big. The Avalanche have got to be feeling good about the way they’ve been playing of late, especially given their injury issues at the moment. If they can grab another two points when they visit Los Angeles on Saturday before welcoming back Matt Duchene, it will be huge.

Varly, Varly

Stone goal aside – and that’s almost understandable given that you A) expect Stone to probably dump the puck and B) don’t realize how fast those shots are coming, let alone when it’s partially hidden by your own defenseman – Varlamov was again outstanding, turning aside 41 shots.

There were a few shots that Varlamov turned aside that could have easily found the back of the net and would have been completely understandable. But if the Avalanche are going to continue to win, this is how they’re going to do it. They need Varly to be the best goalie he can be and when he’s on, he might be one of the best in the league right now.

Battle Tested

The Avalanche aren’t exactly dealing with a slew of injuries right now, but they are clearly banged up. Not just the guys who aren’t on the ice, but the ones who are. Ryan O’Reilly, who had a four-stitch cut over his left eye, and Benoit, who took a puck to the face earlier in the game, were both bandaged and bleeding as the Avalanche completed their comeback.

Nov 21, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA; Phoenix Coyotes forward Tim Kennedy (34) skates the puck in on Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov (1) as forward Jamie McGinn (11) defends in the third period against at Arena. The Avalanche defeated the Coyotes 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

This is a long season and the Avalanche are going to get banged up. They need to hope it doesn’t get out of control because, if the injuries remain manageable, everyone will be playing hurt. That’s what the NHL season is about: fighting through the pain to reach the ultimate goal.

Right now, the Avalanche look a little banged up but they’re fighting through and prospering. As long as you’re winning, those bumps and bruises don’t feel all that bad.

Next up: 11/23 @ Los Angeles 

Ryan is the editor of Mile High Sticking as well as co-owner of The Farm Club. Follow him on Twitter to talk Avs, Sabres, hockey in general, or to let him know what a yutz he is.

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Tags: 2013-14 Season Andre Benoit Colorado Avalanche NHL Phoenix Coyotes Ryan O'Reilly Semyon Varlamov

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