Game 63. Avs-Red Wings. Avs Hold On in Third Period, Collect 2 Points.

Posted: February 25, 2012 in Avs vs. Detroit Red Wings, Game Thoughts

What a game for the Avs. I will be the first to admit that I thought they had no chance today, but then again, I didn’t anticipate they would score two goals in the first 3 minutes.

Avs fans do not give Greg Sherman enough credit at all. Right now the trade for Steve Downie looks like a great trade for the Avs. It was no more evident than on the first goal of the game, when hard work along the boards by Landeskog and O’Reilly led to Downie getting the puck, who smartly sent the puck to the net where it took a bit of a lucky bounce right to Landeskog who buried it for the goal.

I never would have expected the Avs to get such an early goal, but they were not finished. Mark Olver took a goaltender interference penalty less than 30 seconds later, and the great start seemed to be over. Karma delivers once again when Kyle Quincey lost the puck in his own end after Kobasew ran into him, and Jones quickly picked it up, and beat Jimmy Howard over the glove. A shorthanded goal for a 2-0 Avalanche lead in the first period, am I dreaming?

The Wings recovered some of the momentum throughout the first period, but they could not beat Giguere, and the Avs went into the intermission up by two. This honestly might be the most surprised I have been by the Avs this year. I gave them absolutely zero chance of winning this game, but they came out and started strong which seems to be a rare thing these days.

Maybe it is just Detroit’s puck possession style, but they seemed to control the early part of the second period. The Wings were incredibly aggressive the whole game, and the Avs matched their aggressiveness well. Colorado has a tendency to sit back when they get a lead, but they maintained their pressure during the second period.

Gabriel Landeskog added another goal for the Avs with under seven minutes left in the period. This time it was O’Reilly who found Landeskog in the slot, but once again, hard work along the boards from Downie and O’Reilly led to the goal.

That goal led to a couple of thoughts for me: I thought the Wings would let up a bit, and I thought the Avs would sit back, but neither really happened. The Avs kept matching the Wings aggressive style and intensity. I was really impressed with the Avs not having a letdown after the third goal. The Avs got to the second intermission up 3-0.

Once the second intermission hit, I let my mind wander; already looking forward to the win, I would guess that the Avs did as well, and it showed early. 44 seconds in, Juri Hudler scored on the powerplay. The difference between Giguere and Varlamov was prevalent on this goal. Valtteri Filppula skated in from one faceoff circle, and then passed it across to Hudler who had a WIDE open net. As soon as the pass went across, Giguere gave up. He knew it was going to be a goal. He did absolutely tonight to try and stop it, not even as much as reach the stick back. If he tries at all on the goal, he probably stops it because the shot ended up going far post and was not far away from Jiggy without him moving.

But it is still 3-1, still comfortable. To make things even better, Downie added another goal for the Avs around the halfway mark of the period. It was a great cross ice pass from Ryan Wilson to find Downie wide open near the crease, and he had no trouble finishing it. 4-1 with less than 11 minutes left, it is definitely over now right?

But with under seven minutes left in the game, Hudler found the back of the net again on a great deflection. The puck went from going to hit the right post, to hitting the left post and going in, right in front of Giguere. He had no chance to react. Still, it is 4-2 with less than 7 minutes left, the Avs clearly have the win.

Only 1:31 later, Filppula beat Giguere on a scramble in front, that lead to him swiping his stick at the puck, and slipping it through Giguere’s pads. At this point it was a total panic for me. I didn’t expect any points at the beginning of the game, but they had a 4-1 with 10+ minutes left, and I let guard down. Now the Avs had to keep the Wings off the scoreboard for the next 5 minutes and 7 seconds to keep their lead. And the Wings had total momentum and confidence.

The next five minutes was constant Detroit pressure. They seemed to keep the puck on the Avs half of the red line the whole time. But the Avs managed to keep them off the board and get the win. With about 5 seconds left, the Avs got the puck out of their zone and Landeskog slapped it forward towards the goal. The puck was immediately deflected, and was slowly bouncing towards the goal, his hat trick was on line, and it was VERY close, but I think it crossed the line about .1 of a second late. I would guess they would go back and review it to make sure, but no word on it yet.

The Avs got two huge points tonight. Gigantic to keep up with LA, and give themselves a little breathing room for the time being. But I’m sure that my Monday the Avs will need another win to keep up with the rest of the conference.

The Avs next game is Monday against the Anaheim Ducks at Pepsi Center. The game starts at 7 p.m. Mountain time.

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