(Denver, Colorado) – Yes, COLORADO, the Avalanche can play defense.
Tonight at the Pepsi Center it was the number one offense against the top defense in the league; and as the stars seem misaligned… it was the offensive-minded Avalanche that came out on top, 3-2. This contest had all the markings of a playoff game with some tight checking, reckless shot blocking, and sparkling goaltending.
After Mark Cammalleri connected on a power play goal at 10:50 to give the Canadiens a 1-0 lead, the Habs were able to shut down the high-flying Avalanche – until six seconds to go in the period when a Ryan Wilson blast from the point tied the game 1-1 and gave Colorado the lift it needed going in the second period.
Elevating its power play to a perfect 2 for 2, the Canadiens grabbed a 2-1 lead early in the second period on Alexandre Picard’s man advantage goal at 2:58. And this is where tide began to turn in favor of the Avalanche. As they have typically done all season long, when Colorado falls behind by a goal they come right back to even the score; and Kevin Porter did just that at 4:01 off a nice play by Philippe Dupuis to make it 2-2.
Relishing the momentum, the Avs began to play inspired hockey spurred by some strong defensive plays. By recapturing the play, the Avs forced the issue with the Canadiens and were able to draw an interference penalty at 13:03. Although Montreal was able to kill the penalty, the Avs remained relentless in their pursuit of the puck and connected on a T.J. Galiardi wrist shot at 16:12 to take a 3-2 lead into the third period. The dominance by the Avs in the second period was seen in the shots on goal column that gave them a 15-8 advantage.
The third period began much like the first period did with some solid hitting and tight checking. The doubts that have surrounded the Avs all season long was put in check tonight, as they were able to play effectively in their own zone – minimizing the pressure on goaltender Craig Anderson who played a strong game with 27 saves.
The Canadiens pulled Corey Price with 1:08 left in the game for the extra attacker; but they failed to get anything past the Colorado defense and Anderson.
For sure, the team defense displayed tonight won this game for the Avalanche and answered some questions about their ability to clamp down defensively when the chips are down. It was the sixth victory in a row for the Avs who catapult back into first place in the Northwest Division ahead of the Vancouver Canucks. The Avs next play the exciting Los Angeles Kings at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday.
Game Notes: The Canadiens power played clicked at 50percent tonight – going 2 for 4. T.J Galiardi scored his first game winning goal of the season. Paul Stastny returned to the lineup tonight for the Avs after sitting out the last game with a sore back, while Milan Hejduk sat out the game with a sore groin. Montreal has now lost four of its last five games.
About the Author
Written by Donovan Wilson
Donovan is a professional writer with more than 10 years of corporate communications and public relations experience. He currently resides in the Phoenix, Arizona area where he currently does freelance work for the Arizona Repubilc. With a degree in English from Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., and a Master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri - Columbia, Donovan has written for a variety of newspapers across the country. The single parent of an 13-year old boy, Donovan is a physical fitness enthusiast whom you can find on a soccer field or in the gym enduring an intense cardio workout. A sports enthusiast, Donovan has played competitive college hockey, soccer, and track and field. During his spare time, it’s not uncommon to see Donovan volunteering his services to a homeless shelter in Phoenix where he helps to feed the homeless. Currently, Donovan sits on the board of two nonprofit organizations – Green Nonprofits, Inc. and Queens Sickle Cell Advocacy Network, Inc. in New York City.