In one of the best games of the season thus far, the Colorado Avalanche beat the St. Louis Blues 5-0. This was the final game for both teams before the Christmas break. While the Blues were coming in on a two game losing streak, the Avs had a two game winning streak and five game point streak on the line. Semyon Varlamov was back in the lineup after missing another six games with his nagging groin injury (a decision I personally questioned, given the stellar play of Calvin Pickard and the reoccurring nature of Varlamov’s injury this season). Right from the start, the Avs were outplaying the Blues. Although the Avs would receive a 5 on 3 opportunity on the powerplay, they were unable to convert, and for a couple of minutes, it appeared as though the early Avalanche tide would be changed with a Blues rush. Luckily, Erik Johnson decided it was time to score his 5th goal in five games, and, after about 15 minutes of play, wired a shot through a number of players to score. Late in the first, the Blues were frustrated, and took a penalty, which led to another Avalanche goal late in the period (Zach Redmond).
Throughout the second period, the Avs continued to fly and add to their lead. Alex Tanguay, Ryan O’Reilly, and Jarome Iginla all scored goals to add to the Avs’ lead. No one really expected this sort of scoring outburst or score discrepancy from this game, but I don’t think there were any Avalanche fans complaining. While the Blues made a stronger effort in the third period (the only period in which they outshot the Avalanche), they were unable to put a puck past Varlamov, who made some nice saves and looked sharp overall. The Avs continued to have some good chances, but a couple of posts and a fresh face in net prevented any more pucks from entering the Blues’ net.
The return of the “Var-ly, Var-ly” chant to the Pepsi Center was music to my ears, and I feel hopeful that the Avs can put together a good winning streak throughout the next few games. This was the team’s second shutout of the season (the first, also a 5-0 win, over the Islanders). Alex Tanguay added to his team-leading goal tally, and 10 different players ended up on the board at the end of the night.
-Erik Johnson’s current goal total (9) matches the number of goals he had in 80 games last year, and is one shy of his career high (10)…and we still have 49 games left of the season.
-Brad Stuart earned his first and second points of the season tonight, and he also was honored with a ceremony for having played in his 1000th career game Saturday.
-The Avs scored two powerplay goals on six opportunities, which will hopefully boost not only the percentage of the powerplay but also the confidence of the powerplay unit.
-The Avs penalty kill also managed to stop the best powerplay in the league right now three different times.
-Surprisingly, the Avs were subpar on faceoffs, winning only 45%
-Semyon Varlamov made 26 saves for his 15th career shutout.
-The Avs also had 16 takeaways in this game.