(Denver, Colorado) — The Colorado Avalanche last night proved they are a playoff team with a hard fought 4-3 overtime victory against the mighty Vancouver Canucks at the Pepsi Center.
The Avs came out skating and hitting – conforming to the rugged style typically delivered by the Canucks. Through the first two periods, the Avalanche outhit Vancouver by an almost two to one margin.
This contest had shades of a playoff affair – fast-paced skating, pinpoint hitting, strong defensive plays, good scoring opportunities, and great goaltending. Vancouver got on the board first on a 50-foot slap shot by Alexander Elder; but near the end of the period the Avs returned the favor with a power play goal of their own when John-Michael Liles took a feed from Milan Hejduk to even the score, 1-1.
The Canucks ratcheted up the pressure in the second period – but Craig Anderson stood tall in goal, making 16 saves in that period alone and giving his team the confidence it needed. Vancouver regained the lead 2-1, at 10:55 when Ryan Kesler scored a tip-in power play goal. The suspense-filled game was once again tied less than three minutes later by the gritty Avs on David Jones’ wrist shot at 12:46. Both teams played as if they were afraid to lose this contest – playing a fast-paced, but controlled and calculating game. The risk taking became more minimal, with each team having to work doubly hard to generate scoring opportunities. Sparks flew near the end of the period as the teams traded goals with less than two minutes remaining. A nifty backhand shot by Sergei Shirokov gave the resolute Canucks the lead once more; but a minute later, it was Hejduk’s power play goal that knotted the game for the Avs, 3-3.
The third period saw Colorado play a more prevent defensive style – giving Vancouver just enough room to maneuver but not enough to execute. The seesaw affair had the Pepsi Center buzzing, and both team’s solid defensive play resulted in a scoreless third period… setting the stage for a dramatic finish to this contest – courtesy of the special team. With just over two minutes remaining in overtime, David Jones connected on a well-executed power play goal to win the Avs most tantalizing game of the season.
Colorado’s effort tonight in goal, on defense, and up front received high marks across the board and delivered an important message to the rest of the NHL – that they are not about to pull up stakes and head to the golf course come April. The Avs’ effort tonight is an indicator that this team is solidly playoffs-bound.
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.