In their last game before the NHL All-Star Game, the Colorado Avalanche hosted the Phoenix Coyotes in Denver, Colorado. This would be the second of four meeting between the two teams, as the Coyotes won the first meeting 2-0.
The Avs, coming off a close win against the St. Louis Blues, were looking to win the last game of their five-game home stand.
The Coyotes, coming off a loss the night before in Edmonton, were winning 2-0 and ended up losing 4-3 with a late goal-against by the Oilers.
For the third game in a row, the Avs were able to score the first goal of the game, but then saw the lead diminish with unanswered goals.
Ryan Stoa scored his second goal of the season, at the 4:20 mark in the first period.
Scottie Upshall would then score a power-play goal, followed by Keith Yandle, to give the Coyotes the 2-1 lead.
After Yandle’s goal, Avs Coach Joe Sacco pulled starting goalie Peter Budaj, who would be replaced by Craig Anderson. Sacco pulled Budaj not only because the two goals-against were kind of soft, but to send a message to the team to start playing better.
The message to get things in gear was not receive by the Avs, as the Coyotes would extend the lead to three, when Eric Belanger would score early in the second period.
Belanger received a pass from Taylor Pyatt and at first glance it looked like Belanger kicked the puck into the net. After further review, it was clear that Belanger would kick the puck, but the puck would hit the post and then Belanger would poke it in past Anderson.
The Coyotes would broaden the lead to four when Kyle Turris would send a wrist-shot past Anderson. Anderson was trying his best to convince the refs that he was interfered with, but it wouldn’t work and the goal would count.
After the fourth goal and an attempted comeback from the Avs, it was clear that this game was done for.
Although the game was all but over for the Avs, Matt Duchene didn’t quit and fought hard to get his 20th goal of the season, as well as his 100th point of his NHL career.
The Coyotes would score an empty goal to make the game 5-2, which was also the final score.
Despite the score, this game could have been completely different, had a couple of things gone in favor for the Avs.
In the second period, after having to kill three penalties, the Avs finally got things in gear and started to send pucks towards the Coyotes net. Seeing as they were only able to generate one shot on net in the first period.
As the game was still 3-1 in the second, the Avs had a nice rush and were able to score what looked like the second goal. The referee behind the net called no-goal on the ice and stated that Cody McLeod had interfered with Ilya Bryzgalov. Initially, the Avs and the fans thought it was called no-goal because a Coyotes’ player had intentionally knocked the net off the moorings.
Then, five minutes later, the Avs had another rush up the ice and Coyotes defenseman Derek Morries knocked the net off the moorings and again no call from the referees.
Sacco and players were furious with the referees for blowing two missed calls and Captain Adam Foote had words with the refs at the end of the period.
Had the appropriate called been made, this game might have had a different complexion. Instead, the Avs lose by three goals and end their five game home stand with a 3-2 record.
With the calls not going in the Avs favor, there is still plenty of blame that can be placed on the Avs shoulders. The Avs committed nine penalties in the game, with five of the nine coming in the first period alone. Had the Avs played smarter hockey and been able to stay out of the penalty box, this could have given them a better chance to fight back, instead of losing in a horrible fashion.
On a good note, the Avs only allowed one power-play goal.
Whether it is bad calls, too many penalties being taken or too many goals-against; one thing is for sure; the Avs are not playing well at all.
Many teams use the All-Star break to gain momentum for the final stretch of the regular season to get into the playoffs. One can hope that the Avs are able to group together and work on their game, to ensure they make it to the playoffs.
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Written by Adam Lanning