Thursday night was suppose to be a happy and uplifting night for the Colorado Avalanche, as they finished their two-game road trip in St. Paul Minnesota. The Avs were getting two key players back in the lineup, Chris Stewart (who was out seven weeks with a broken hand) and Cody McLeod (who missed 11 games due to a groin injury). These two players were going to give a spark that this team desperately needed to get back on the winning track.
Everything was going in favor for the Avs, as they were winning 2-0 in a building they don’t have a lot of success in, and were fortunate enough to face a rookie goaltender making his second NHL start. Then the Avs were up to the task of killing a penalty against a team that knows how to score on the power-play. Only that wasn’t the scariest thing that happened on the ice during the penalty-kill for the Avs. Ryan O’Reilly was out on the ice, contributing to the penalty-kill, and then all of a sudden when crashing into the boards head first. O’Reilly was trying to poke the puck away from a Wild player, lost an edge and went into the boards and did not get up. He laid on the ice for approximately ten minutes, before he was taken out on a stretcher and sent to a local hospital. Team officials have not disclosed what the injuries are, but they say that he will be OK. Matt Duchene also Tweeted that O’Reilly will be traveling back home with the team.
Even though a beloved teammate went down and did not return to the game, there are two good things that happened for the Avs. One, the Avs were able to control their emotions and continue the strong play to secure a victory. Two, the special teams were a huge factor to the success, including strong play from goalie Craig Anderson. Although Anderson was lucky to hear the ping from the puck hitting the pipes a few times, he did play like he did last year, which helped the Avs return to the playoffs.
Despite the loss of another key member to the Avs squad, the Avs got two important players back and were able to win 4-1 in a very hostile environment. In addition to the environment, the Avs were able to overcome adversity, put their emotion in check, and play like a team that knows how to win.
It is not clear as to how long O’Reilly will be out of the lineup, but one thing is for certain; the Avs got a boost from two players that were missed dearly and Anderson is starting to regain his form in net.
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Written by Adam Lanning