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Avs Outlast Devils

Okay, so it’s been awhile…sorry guys. Let’s talk about the game, shall we?

This was the second game of the season between the New Jersey Devils and the Colorado Avalanche. (Their first meeting, way back in November, ended with an Avs victory in regulation, 3-2.) After Tuesday’s disappointing loss to the Los Angeles Kings, I was curious to see how the Avalanche would start this game off. Unfortunately, the boys in blue came out sluggish and a bit sloppy (how unusual for an Avs first period). Semyon Varlamov was back in net after missing a game due to stress on his groin (likely from the whole 22-starts-in-a-row thing). While the skaters in front of him seemed incapable of shooting on net, Varlamov was typically sharp, and stopped all 13 shots he faced in the first period.

By the second period, the Avs seemed to have woken up a little bit, and on their 5th shot of the game, Jarome Iginla buried the puck behind Devils’ goaltender Cory Schneider. Unbelievably, the Avs found themselves with a lead. The goal seemed to give the Avs some life, and the boys started to play better after that, although there were still plenty of missed opportunities. Patrick Roy was switching up the lines a lot during the period, and seemed to be trying to find the right combination to open the floodgates and really get things going. Unfortunately, despite outplaying the Devils for most of the period, and outshooting them 10-4, the Devils tied things up around the 14 minute mark.

In the third period, the Avs once again outshot their opponents (12-4), but they failed to score on some extremely vital opportunities (Tanguay had a breakaway, Holden had an open net right in front of him, et cetera). Varlamov made the few saves he had to, and the game headed into overtime. Overtime was perhaps the most exciting hockey of the game, as the two teams traded chances back and forth. In the final minute of play, Varlamov made a glove save that literally had me screaming as I leaped from my seat. Neither team had the scoring touch needed to score in overtime, so things had to be decided in a shootout.

Ryan O’Reilly and Jarome Iginla scored for the Avs, and Varlamov made 2 out of 3 saves in order to give the Avs the win and another two precious points. The team has a slim chance of making the playoffs (although obviously, those of us in Avs nation still believe), but at least these points in this game give them a chance.

Other Thoughts

-Alex Tanguay had a surprisingly bad game, which was a bit disappointing.

-Ryan O’Reilly didn’t score until the shootout, but his stickhandling was superb throughout the game. He had 4 takeaways in the game.

-Matt Duchene led the team with 5 blocked shots.

-The team won 55% of the faceoffs, and Marc-Andre Cliche was particularly impressive, going 8 and 3.

-Winnipeg lost tonight, but Los Angeles won. The Avs have cut their deficit to 6 points behind the last wild card spot. The Jets and the Sharks are still ahead of the Avs, sitting between them and a playoff spot. 96 points has never failed to make the playoffs in the Western Conference, and if the Avs want to get to that point total, they still have to go 11-2-1 in their final 14 games, which is a pretty tall order.

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