Avs Leaf Toronto With a Point – Fall to Leaves 3-2 in OT


2. 103. Final. 3. 116

It appears that the Avalanche ran out of gas out of gas tonight… That or the Maple Leafs got an injection of Tim Hortons during the second intermission that jolted them to the finish. The Avs did something they rarely did last season, and botched a lead when heading into the final frame. The Avalanche were a pristine 35-0-3 when they held an edge during the final intermission last year, but failed to secure the win in their first attempt in that situation this year.

The Avalanche came out strong, and were the superior team in the first period, outshooting the Leafs 12-8. However, it was Toronto who drew first blood. Gotta watch out for those prickly leaf stems when doing your fall cleanup. Phil Kessel set up JVR on a goal that most Leaf fans probably played twice on their DVR. It was James van Riemsdyk‘s second goal of the season, and not the last time we would be hearing from “The Phil.”

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The Avalanche managed to do something new this season, and score a first period goal. Ryan O’Reilly had the honors, on a wide angle shot from the left side of the net, after a series of bounces sent the puck his way. This tied the game at one, minutes after the Leafs scored. The beard is on the board for the burgundy.

The second period saw the Avs start to see their legs abandon them. Keep in mind, that the Avalanche played in Boston yesterday, and were missing a defenseman for a large portion of that contest. The five guys who were on the ice saw a little extra time. It was a day game though, and these guys are conditioned athletes who train at altitude. No excuses, frankly.

Despite Toronto taking control of the play for much of the period, it was the Avalanche who made the goal judge work for his paycheck. Matt Duchene went pure class, with a saucy little snipe from right between the circles. The howitzer went away from the flow of Duchene and Reiemer’s movement, and went bar down into the promise-land behind the goal stripe. Jarome Iginla set-up the chance with a pass from the corner, for his second assist of the evening.

The Air Canada Center crew had the ice tilted even more in Toronto’s direction in the third. The Leafs outshot the Avalanche 31-12 over the final two periods, and finally got rewarded for their efforts with just under ten minutes remaining in the game. Brad Stuart sent a gift of a puck right onto the stick of Joffrey Lupul, who went five-hole on Varly to tie the game at two. Bad news for Stuart is, despite the generosity of the gift, he loses classy points for not wrapping it. Seriously guys… wrap your presents, and a nice bow or ribbon doesn’t hurt either.

The Avalanche didn’t play well in the final half of tonight’s game, but they still had a chance to put the clamps down and couldn’t. Sloppy play on the defensive end gave the Leafs too many chances, and they were able to capitalize. On the bright side, the Avalanche penalty kill was strong, killing off all five Toronto opportunities, aided by a few key saves from Varly as per tradition. The power play… not so much. Yuck. More on that tomorrow.

The overtime period started off with some hilarity, as the goaltenders for each team went to the wrong net. This year the NHL changed the OT rules to the second period alignment, with the long change, to promote scoring chances. I guess Varly and Reimer must have gotten their fax machines from the same company the Denver Broncos use. Hey Dumervil jokes. Did I lose some of you? Excellent… moving on.

The OT was a short affair, as Phil Kessel drove hard into the Avs zone on the left side, and pulled up with a little deke/half-spin on Tyson Barrie. The clip quickly became the most embarrassing footage of Barrie on the internet, and Kessel was able to slip it in behind Varly and secure a win for the home side.

The Avalanche fall to 1-2-1 on the season, while the Leafs have evened their record at 2-2 with their second straight win. The Avalanche have collected 3 out of 4 possible points so far on this road trip. Still a start to be pleased with, but they have some unfinished business to take care of before leaving Canada. Trips to Ottawa and Montreal are on deck, and it would sure be nice to head back to Denver with a winning record.