The Colorado Avalanche definitely played their best game of the season tonight in New Jersey. This four game, Eastern swing roadtrip was a bit of a wild one. After two really rough games in Philadelphia and Long Island, the team managed to pull off a .500 roadtrip with wins in New York and New Jersey.
Tonight’s game got off to a bit of a rough start, with a New Jersey goal two minutes in. The goal came after a bit of break down. Instead of getting down, the team stuck to their gameplan, played some patient hockey, and were eventually rewarded. Eight minutes in, John Mitchell scored a nice goal from the dirty area in front of the net. From there on out, the team worked really hard, but nothing particularly exciting happened. Games against New Jersey are often pretty boring, because the Devils play a very tight, very responsible game. While the Avs had three opportunities on the power play (against the league’s worst penalty kill team), they were unable to capitalize on the opportunities, and the game remained tied.
During the third, the pace picked up a bit more. Eric Gelinas scored with a lazer of a shot right off of a faceoff to give the Devils their second lead of the game. I was a bit worried that this goal would demoralize the team, especially because Cory Scheider was having a pretty solid game on the other end. Luckily, Erik Johnson decided that he was tired of this losing nonsense. EJ carried the puck from the Avs defensive zone, through the neutral zone, into the offensive zone, and then scored off of an oblique angle shot that popped through Schneider’s five hole. Just as the clock ticked past the 17th minute in the period, after a long shift of cycling the puck, Matt Duchene finished off a hard-working shift by scoring off of a rebound from his own shot. The Devils pushed hard, but the Avalanche and Varlamov were able to hold on (even through a penalty kill) to win the game.
This is the first time the Avs have won back to back games this year, and it was also the team’s first regulation win since October 30. Hopefully this is the turning point in what has thus far, been a lackluster season.
-Erik Johnson played over 30 minutes of icetime tonight. He was also certainly the Avs’ best skater. He gave a great interview after the game too.
-The Avs limited the Devils to only 25 shots.
-Nick Holden had another really rough game. He was limited to only 13 minutes of play (way below his average of last year, and his playing times this year), and in those 13 minutes he was on ice for both goals against and ended up a -2.
-The team only had two giveaways tonight, which was a welcome change.
-Though the team won 50% of the faceoffs tonight, though the top faceoff man, Matt Duchene, only won 33% of his faceoffs.
-Gabe Landeskog had a pretty good game, even though he only ended up with an assist on the scoresheet.
-The Avs don’t play again until Thursday night, at home, against the Capitals.