The Avs-Detroit series hasn't been about the violence as much as it has been about the hockey as of late. These are clearly two of the most skilled teams in the NHL and last night they treated fans to a very well-played hockey game.
The Red Wings got off to a quick start in the first period, jumping out to a 2-0 lead. The Wings, a team that controls the puck better than anybody, is almost imposssible to beat if they've gotten the lead on you. But the Avs fought back.
First Goal Alert!
With under a minute to go in the period, Cody McLeod intercepted a pass in Detroit's zone, walked in all alone, and beat the great Dominick Hasek. It was a beautiful goal in which McLeod later commented:
"I'm not even sure if I was looking where I was shooting."
Congratulations to him.
With a 2-1 deficit going into the second, the Avs came out very strong, throwing puck after puck on net. The Red Wings, at 23 shots per game, give up the fewest in the entire league. The Avs had 21 through two periods, but just 3 shots in the third.
On a shot thrown on net by Jeff Finger and Jaroslav Hlinka, Marek Svatos scored one of his infamous "down-low" goals and tied up the game.
The rest of the second was played in Detroit's favor, but Peter Budaj continued his strong play. However, with 11 seconds left, Detroit scored again on a killer shot by Samuelsson to take the lead.
In the third, the Avs continued to press. The defensemen were coming up into the play, including Kyle Cumiskey who almosth had won with under two minutes to go.
After pulling the goaltender, Detroit scored to wrap up a 4-2 victory.
If this game can be considered a measuring stick, then we should be happy with the Avs game right now. They played very well against the best team in the NHL, even while missing some key pieces.
Joe Sakic will undergo hernia surgery which will make him miss 8-12 weeks. A blow to the Avs, this means players such as Wojtek Wolski, Jaroslav Hlinka, Andrew Brunette, and Ryan Smyth will need to continue to step up their games and put the puck in the back of the net. Get well soon, Captain.
The Avs took their first penalty in this game with just nine minutes to go in the third period. Discipline is important and the Avs are very good at keeping out of the box.
Three Stars of the Game
1. Cody McLeod (First NHL goal, provided grit and great defensive work ethic)
2. Marek Svatos (The other goal, drew two penalties)
3. Ryan Smyth (In his return, Smyth probably should have had at least two goals)
The Avs will play the Los Angeles Kings, whom they beat 4-2 in their last meeting. This is a crucial time for the Avs, who really need to take advantage of these games and start racking up two points each night.
Here are all of the highlights from the Wings-Avs game. McLeod's goal can be seen starting at 1:27 on the video.