When the best team in the Northwest Division comes onto your home ice near the end of the first month of the NHL season, it's a pretty good measuring stick of where your team is at. For the Avs, things are looking up.
It all started about eight and a half minutes in when Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth combined for another goal on a 2 on 1 break. It looked to be a carbon copy of Friday night's goal. The chemistry between Sakic and Smyth is just starting to come into play and it will result in many victories for Colorado. The goal came when Minnesota had been controlling the game but the momentum had changed. However, Eric Belanger tied the game with a powerplay goal and the teams went into the first intermission tied 1-1.
Avalanche Fact: The Avs are undefeated when scoring the first goal this season.
The second period saw very even hockey until the end, when Marek Svatos scored his fifth goal of the season. Svatos is now tied for the team lead in goals. Once again, credit Sakic with an asssist.
In the third, Peter Budaj continued his solid play. With just over three minutes to go, the Wild had a brilliant chance in which Budaj mananged to glove a wrist shot when the entire net had been open. It was a game saving play and Budaj came through. The Avs managed to seal the game when Wojtek Wolski put in the third goal with 37 seconds left and the Avs won 3-1.
Peter Budaj has now won fifty games as an NHL goaltender. In today's game, he made 21 saves and was sensational at times.
Wojtek Wolski extended his point streak to 7 games with a goal in the last minute.
With a record of 5-0 at home, it's the first time the Avs have ever gotten off to such a great start at the beginning of a season. They are are now 6-0 when scoring first as well.
Joe Sakic, Ryan Smyth, Marek Svatos, and Paul Stastny are tied for the team lead in goals with five apiece.
Even in such a great win and effort, some negatives can be found. The Avs continue to turn the puck over in their own zone way too often. No team will go far in the Playoffs by turning the puck over. This needs to be stopped.
The power play continues to struggle. With so many playmakers (Sakic, Stastny, Hlinka, Svatos, Wolski) this shouldn't be a problem. With special teams being so important in today's NHL, lets hope the coaching staff puts some time in working on the problem.
Faceoffs are also an issue this season. Seriously, they stink. And stinking on faceoffs means not having the puck in your own zone after key draws.
Three Stars of the Game
1. Joe Sakic (Two assists, making plays, etc. He still does it all.)
2. Wojtek Wolski (A seven game point streak and his defensive game has improved dramatically)
3. Marek Svatos (He has his scoring touch back and was in the slot to create several chances)
The Pittsburgh Penguins will travel to Colorado on Thursday as the Avs get their first look at Sidney Crosby. Still no idea who will start in goal, but I would assume it would be Budaj.
The Avs are now just two points back of the Northwest Division lead!
In the next post, look for a Pittsburgh Penguins report.