Game 1. Avs-Wild. Was This Really the Avs First Game?

Posted: January 19, 2013 in Avs vs. Minnesota Wild

Hard to believe this was the Avs first game tonight, because they were in mid-season form for turning 2 points into zero.

Semyon Varlamov stops Pierre-Marc Bouchard on a breakaway in the second period at the Xcel Energy Center. Photo from nhl.com

Semyon Varlamov stops Pierre-Marc Bouchard on a breakaway in the second period at the Xcel Energy Center. Photo from nhl.com


Ultimately it was undisciplined, sloppy play that led to the Avs demise Saturday night, as the Wild cruised to a 4-2 victory. It was a 53 second stretch early in the second period when the Wild scored 2 goals that changed the momentum for Minnesota and they never looked back. Dany Heatley scored on the powerplay, followed up by Mikael Granlund who tipped one past Semyon Varlamov less than a minute later.

The game started out perfectly for the Avs when John Mitchell put them on the board first only 2 minutes and 7 seconds into the game. Certainly it was not a pretty goal, but Mitchell found a way to get his stick on the puck and slipped it through Niklas Backstrom’s legs. In fact the whole first period belonged to the Avs, but much like the team last year, they couldn’t take advantage of their chances early in the game, and it cost them. Mainly it was Jamie McGinn, who missed an empty netter from the middle of the slot that would have put the Avs up 2-0 early in the first. He had an opportunity to completely take the crowd out of the game, and he blew it. Colorado let Minnesota hang around in a game they had no reason being in, and the Wild took advantage.

The second period was all Minnesota. The Wild were led by Avalanche winger Steve Downie in the second period, who gave the Wild a two minute powerplay, and a four minute powerplay (two, 2 minute minor penalties) in the first 7 minutes of the period. Downie was out of control, and cost the Avs the game with his penalties. Heatley capitalized on the first Downie penalty, and then he capitalized again on the 3rd powerplay Downie gave them, but it was a 5-3 powerplay as Ryan O’Byrne was also called for a penalty (holding the stick). Heatley’s second goal of the game gave the Wild a 3-1 lead, and killed a lot of momentum for the Avs.

Photo from nhl.com

Photo from nhl.com


Another shocking development in the game happened in the third period, when Cody McLeod slid one past Backstrom early in the third, making it 3-2. This never seemed to happen last year, the Avs never got that early 3rd period goal, but McLeod got the job done, and made the rest of the period interesting. But once again it was Steve Downie who won the game for the Wild, when the Avs were down 3-2 with less than 4 minutes remaining, the puck ended up on Downie’s stick, practically in the crease, with a wide open net to tie the game, and he rang it off the crossbar. Downie did just as much for the Wild to win the game, as Heatley’s two goals did.

Other notes

Parenteau-Duchene-Landeskog line was very forgettable. I thought Duchene had a good game, PA had a below average game, but Landeskog was no where to be seen tonight.

Tyson Barrie had a good game. I’m a much bigger fan of Barrie than Elliott. He didn’t show up on the score sheet, but was a +1, and was aggressive.

Hejduk and McLeod also had good games. Nice to see #23 start the season strong after a disappointing campaign last year.

Despite allowing 4 goals, Varlamov was stellar. He kept the Avs in the game, despite the rest of the team taking SEVEN penalties in front of him.

Who had bad games? Downie, McGinn, Landeskog…and to some extent Stastny, who had an excellent look on a 2-1 but decided to try and force a pass across to Jones (in the 2nd period?). I think he needs to be more aggressive.

The Avs next game in on Tuesday against the LA Kings at Pepsi Center. The game begins at 7 p.m. Mountain time.

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