Game 75. Avs-Flames. Varlamov Stays Hot, Jones Wins it in Overtime

Posted: March 20, 2012 in Avs vs. Calgary Flames, Game Thoughts

This game was as close to a playoff game as you will see during the regular season. Both teams desperately needed a win, and it was David Jones who ended up finally solving Miikka Kiprusoff in OT, to pick up 2 points.

The Avs could not have gotten off to a worse start. Playing a team they have lost to 9 straight times, and they let in a goal less than 2 minutes in. Every Avs fan was saying, “Here we go again.”

The Flames goal was not even a good one. Even after watching all the replays I still couldn’t figure out exactly how it went in, but I believe it was 5 hole. The puck also took an incredibly lucky bounce right to Matt Stajan’s stick on his way to the front of the net, but regardless, it was not a great goal.

Here is an interesting tidbit too: Stajan in the only player still on the Flames that came over in the Dion Phaneuf trade. Bet Calgary wishes they could take that one back.

The Avs answered though, about seven minutes later when Paul Stastny was able to tip a Shane O’Brien slapshot through Kiprusoff’s legs. There is always an element of luck with deflected shots so I suppose the goals canceled each other out in more ways than one.

The rest of the period, actually, make that the rest of the game, belonged to Semyon Varlamov. He made 9 saves in the first period but none were bigger than his breakaway stop on Jarome Iginla. Iginla tried to go between the pads, but Varlamov said no. That last sentence made me think of this clip

It is amazing how calm I am when the other team has a breakaway when Varlamov is in net. Most Avs fans already know that it is not going in.

The second period was much more conservative than the first. I think both teams knew how huge the next goal would be, and started to be defensive minded. Of course, there still were chances for both teams, but both goalies were strong. Iginla had another breakaway chance, but this time it was Varlamov’s stick that was able to poke the puck away.

I thought the Avs played a little too conservative in the third. Especially in the last 10 minutes they seemed to be playing for overtime. That is one thing the Avs have been guilty too often this season, but fortunately it did not bite them tonight.

The Avs actually had a great chance with just under 4 minutes to play in regulation when Ryan O’Reilly received a pass from behind the net, shot it over Kiprusoff’s shoulder, and off the crossbar. But the real situation happened after the shot, when O’Reilly was hit square in the nose with Mark Giordano’s stick. O’Reilly immediately went down and was bleeding, but no call was made. The Avs should have had a 4 minute powerplay that would have carried over into overtime if necessary, but either the refs missed it, or thought O’Reilly put himself into a vulnerable position.

Those four minutes to get the game to OT were filled with some good chances for the Flames and a lot of breath holding by myself. Varlamov made one last nice save as the final buzzer sounded, and the Avs secured a point. I would not have complained much if the Avs came out of the game with only 1 point, considering the Avs did not have a point the whole season against the Flames, but 2 points would be gravy. Two points against the Flames is as exciting as not knowing an answer on a test only to find it within another question.

And sure enough, with just more than a minute left in overtime, David Jones banked the puck off of Kiprusoff and in. Of all the potential goals to win a game against the Flames, the one that finally went in, was from behind the goal line. Yep.

But Matt Hunwick deserves a lot of credit on the play for making a strong move to get the puck in deep, and Paul Stastny made a nice move as well to get the puck to the net. The Avs continue to roll.

Other notes:

-Terrible night around the NHL for the Avs. The Stars-Coyotes game handed out 3 points, and the LA-SJ game that is currently in the second intermission could easily see OT as well.

-It looked like Duchene and Mueller were hesitant to pass to Hejduk tonight. Not really sure if that is just in my head, but it is something I will be keeping my eye on.

-Shane O’Brien had a great game. He was strong on the puck, had an assist, and was solid defensively. He really stepped up with Erik Johnson out of the lineup.

-The Avs did a great job killing 2 penalties in the third period to keep the game tied.

The Avs will finish the night in 7th place, and have a another HUGE game on Thursday.

The Avs next game is Thursday against the Coyotes in Phoenix. The game starts at 8 p.m. Mountain time.

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