It was like a new team was out on the ice. And in some ways, it was a new team. Quenville tinkered with the lines a bit, putting Jaroslav Hlinka on the second line with Stastny and Hejduk and putting Ryan Smyth on the third line - the lowest one he's been on all season.
The Hlinka experiment paid off just four minutes into the game when Hlinka was credited for an assist on Milan Hejduk's goal. That goal was then followed by a Brett Clark shot from the point which trickled in just 25 seconds later. The Avs outshot the Oilers 17-3 in the first.
In the second, the Avs continued to skate and then it happened. A power play. The woes have been awful but as Joe Sakic took the faceoff in the Oilers zone, there was one big difference. As soon as he won the faceoff, he put a shot on net. Tremendous adjustment. Hejduk and Stastny would get their third and second points of the night as Joe Sakic fired a shot from point blank range to FINALLY score an Avalanche PPG. The scoring wasn't over. Six minutes later, Wojtek Wolski contiued his sound play on assists from Sakic and Cumiskey. For those of you keeping score at home, the Avs outshot the Oilers 19-6 in the second.
The third period was pretty low key. The Avs went into a defensive shell and the Oilers did manage to get two goals in the period. Nevertheless, after outshooting the Oilers 43-13 in the game, the Avs (and Peter Budaj) finally took home a victory.
Key Stat: The Avs were 4-4 on the PK and scored their first PPG in five games
Even in a victory, there are some negatives.
Early in the first, right after Clark's goal, Scott Hannan turned the puck over in the zone which lead to a 2-on-1 and eventually a wide open net for the Oilers. Luckily, the puck hit the cross bar.
The third period was a nervewrecking one. Defensive shells aren't the way to go, even with a 4-0 lead.
Three Stars of the Game
1. Milan Hejduk (Scored the first goal, got his first of two asssists on the second goal, and made a key play on the third goal)
2. Wojtek Wolski (Outstanding effort rewarded with a goal)
3. Jaroslav Hlinka (Get him going and the team might take off)
The Avs play tonight against the San Jose Sharks, one of the best PP and PK units in the league. It should be a real test.
News and Notes Coming Up