It's one of those moments where all you can do is groan and say "aw, not again!" And that's exactly how I felt when Milan Hejduk messed up lifting a stick and ended up taking a four minute high sticking penalty. Just a few minutes into the game, the precedent would be set.
What has been a dreadful penalty kill, looked superb last night. The Avs killed off the entire four minutes, with Budaj making key saves.
The Avs ended up going 6/7 on the penalty kill. The other side of special teams? The Avs finally got their first powerplay goals, going 2/7 on the PP, including a big 5-3 goal early on to take the lead.
Colorado was up 2-0 going into the second and they looked to be in control. However, in the second, the Sharks dominated play and cut the lead in half to make it 2-1.
A third period with this team is always bad for the nerves, but quick goals by Stastny and Hejduk put any doubt of a win to rest. The Avs took the game, 6-2.
Paul Stastny: Stastny had his first five point game of his career. With one goal and four assists, Stastny is now the NHL leader in points. (8) He was also the NHL.com's 'First Star' this week and was named first star of the game last night.
Joe Sakic: With his first goal and assist last night, Sakic continues to move up on the lists of greatness. With 1,591 points, Sakic passed Phil Esposito to move into 8th place on the all time scoring list.
Ryan Smyth: Smyth had his first goal as an Av and also added an assist. Smyth continues to be a good worker in the corners and has been very explosive.
Marek Svatos: To reward his strong play, Joel Quenville move Svatos to the third line and Svatos paid him back by scoring his first goal of the year.
Peter Budaj: Budaj stopped 24/26 shots and looked very sharp. He controlled rebounds EXTREMELY well.
The Avs were very impressive defensively. A stat on Altitude last night showed that the Sharks are one of the youngest, tallest, and heaviest teams in the league. (The Avs are near the bottom in all three.) Lead by Lappy, Hannan, and Leopold, Colorado held their own.
It was refreshing to see that the Avalanche used their time off to work on some of the things that they needed to improve on.
Jeff Finger was in action for the first time this season. Karlis Skrastins was scratched from the lineup. Finger played well last year and it'd be nice to see him become an impact player in the next few months.
Three Stars of the Game:
1. Paul Stastny: Who can argue with a five point night?
2. Brett Clark: Props on keeping Joe Thornton's line pointless throughout the night.
3. Ryan Smyth: If Smyth and Sakic can heat up, the Avs offense could score 300 goals.
Jaroslav Hlinka was moved to the first line, while Ryan Smyth was put on the second line. The chemistry of the Smyth-Stastny-Hejduk line worked out well. Svatos was also moved up to the third line (in exchange for Lappy) and that will probably remain the same for the next game.
The Avs have a little time off and will play St. Louis on Friday. The Avs were swept last year by the Blues, and with Manny Legace, it is always a tough matchup.
In my next entry, we'll check in on the other teams in the Northwest Division.