Game 64. Avs-Ducks. Big Third Period Leads to Avs Victory

Posted: February 27, 2012 in Avs vs. Anaheim Ducks, Game Thoughts

Tonight was a tale of 3 periods. Some games blend together into the same team all 3 periods, but tonight was not was not one of them.

Welcome to Colorado, Steve Downie. 7 points his last 3 games? I don’t hear all of the Greg Sherman haters now. It has been truly amazing what he has done with O’Reilly and Landeskog. For the first time all year, I feel like the Avs have a legitimate first line.

Tonight, the Avs came out and played a great first period. You could really tell that they wanted to bury the Ducks early after Anaheim played last night. The only reason they did not is because Jonas Hiller kept them in the game.

But the Avs still managed to score the first goal of the game when Cody McLeod of all people lifted a backhand over Hiller’s pad. Steve Downie’s crossing pass hit a skate and bounced straight to McLeod who still made a nice shot to get it past Hiller before he could react.

The first goal was exactly what they needed, and they almost got a few more before the period was over. Hiller stopped an abbreviated two on zero after McClement couldn’t get the pass across, and he also made some nice saves off of deflections to keep the game at one.

The second period was all Anaheim. It felt like a Ducks’ practice in that I often wondered if there were just 10 Duck players on the ice. They bombarded Varlamov with shots, but he was getting them all. Varlamov is playing great. He has removed any doubts that fans were having about Giguere being the started. I said in early January that in order for the Avs to make the playoffs Varlamov would have to be the teams starter, and that certainly seems to be the case now.

But late in the period Erik Johnson took a penalty 33 seconds into an Avs powerplay. Johnson brought down Andrew Cogliano after he dumped the puck into the Avs zone. I didn’t think it was a penalty. I thought Cogliano was not past EJ yet when he pushed him down, but apparently the refs did. That lead to an abbreviated powerplay for the Ducks after the 4-4. Quickly after the powerplay started, Bobby Ryan brought the puck into the Avs zone on the wing, changed the angle of the puck at the last second, and fired the puck through Varlamov’s legs. It was not a great goal, but Varlamov was due for a goal. He was peppered with 16 shots in the second period and stood on his head for most of the period. It was only a matter of time before one got by him.

I thought the late goal might keep their legs going for the third period, but once again the Avs came out firing. Only 37 seconds in, O’Reilly found a rebound off of a Landeskog shot, and found a way to put the puck in the net. EXACTLY what the Avs needed. It took away all of the Ducks momentum and gave them a safety cushion for the next goal.

They wouldn’t need the cushion though, because just over 2 minutes later, Matt Duchene scored on a 2-1 to give the Avs a 2 goal lead. Paul Stastny made a great saucer pass on the break over the diving Cam Fowler to Matt Duchene who one timed the puck past Hiller’s sprawling pad.

That is exactly what Duchene needed to get him going. Hopefully this will lead to him getting his game back, because his first four games coming back from the knee injury were VERY forgettable.

That goal really deflated the Ducks hopes, and didn’t really challenge for another goal. The Avs kept going though, and with 5 minutes left in the game Jay McClement took a shot from the wing that went through Luca Sbisa’s legs and beat Hiller far side. It was a great shot my McClement, but the bottom line is it was a wirst shot from the furthest part of the faceoff circle, and probably should have been stopped. I love seeing McClement score though because he is so great defensively too.

Here are some other things I noticed:

-Mueller was on a line with David Jones and Olver. Meanwhile Hejduk skated on a line with Stastny and Duchene. The Avs should get Mueller on a line with Duchene. They complement each other well and Mueller would be much more effective than Hejduk. He really deserves more than 12 minutes a game. The only thing I can think of, is maybe after the trade they needed him to play but he is not 100% yet.

-Landeskog continues to dominate games. I’m running out of words to describe how good he is.

-Varlamov seems to have total confidence in his game, at it is showing. I would not be surprised if he was one of the NHL’s three stars of the week.

The Avs beat a very good team tonight, and kept the Ducks from gaining 2 big points for them. The Ducks have the NHL’s best record in 2012 and tonight’s win gives the Avs some room between the two teams. But every game from here on out will be very important.

The Avs next game is Thursday against the Blue Jackets at Pepsi Center. The game starts at 7 p.m. Mountain time.

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