Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sakic the Hero, Salei Debuts, Foote Tremendous, Goalies Shine in 3-2 Shootout Thriller vs Canucks

It was an incredibly exciting game. With just 17 points to go in the season, the Avs need each and every point and this one almost got away. Lets examine the words in the title:

Sakic the Hero

In what was a 1-1 game all the way through, it appeared as if Vancouver had just missed with less than two minutes to go when the puck apparently hit the post behind Theodore. Play continued for another thirty seconds at which point the play was put under review. A great roar went up as the video clearly showed the Canucks had scored and had taken the lead.

With Theodore pulled, the Avs needed a goal. After failing to clear the puck five or six times, Joe Sakic took a pass and as he fell to the ground, managed to lift the puck over Luongo for a goal. With fifteen seconds to go, Sakic scored his first goal in three months and reminded everybody that he can still play this game.

Roberto Luongo knew that the Canucks had squandered a big win:


"We had about six chances to get it out," said Luongo, who made 24 saves through overtime but only one in the shootout. "Either we shot it off our own guys or we didn't get it out. Next thing you know, a shot from the point and Sakic's alone on the side.

"I was able to get the first save and he chipped it over me for the second one. It's unacceptable, inexcusable. That should never happen, especially in an important game like that."



But before I reveal the ultimate result...

Salei Debuts

Ruslan Salei, acquired from the Florida Panthers for Karlis Skrastins played extremely well. Salei, wearing #24, logged just over 23 minutes of ice time and made a key play that lead to the Sakic goal. After stopping a clearing attempt with time running out, Salei, instead of just throwing the puck around the boards, put the puck on net and helped create the rebound that Sakic scored on.

He played mostly with Jordan Leopold but was also paired with John-Michael Liles throughout the game.

The fact Salei was out there in a key moment shows that Quenville obviously has confidence in him.

In parts of the game, Salei played very well with the puck, making smart decisions and sharp outlet passes.

Foote Tremendous

In his 801st game as an Av but only second this season, Foote also logged just over 23 minutes of ice time and showed that he still has gas in the tank. Gord Miller, announcer on TSN, stated throughout the game that had it not been for Foote, the Avs would have been blown out.

Foote consistently blocked shots including one in the first period which saved a goal. (The net was empty when Foote sprawled out in front of the shot.

It was tense for a few minutes in the second period when Foote's hand got in the way of the shot and appeared to go numb. He did, however, return for the third period.

As always, Foote never gave up on a play and let his physical presence be known.

Goalies Shine

Even though it was just a 3-2 win, scoring chances were abundant on both sides. For Vancouver, Roberto Luongo stopped 24/26 shots including nine on Avalanche power plays. He made a spectacular glove save on Dave Jones early in the first. He didn't give up a goal until Andrew Brunette made a nifty play late in the second.

On the other side, Jose Theodore made 29/31 saves. Theodore also made 2/2 saves in the shootout.

Shootout Thriller

Milan Hejduk (Col) - MISS
Mason Raymond (Van) - SAVE
Joe Sakic (Col) - GOAL
Ryan Shannon (Van) - SAVE
Marek Svatos (Col) - GOAL

Sakic used a nice deke to the backhand to beat Luongo while Svatos snuck a shot through Luongo's five-hole. Theodore appeared to get lucky as Shannon's hit the butt-end of his stick.

Three Stars of the Game

1. Joe Sakic (Game-tying goal + a shootout goal for Super Joe)
2. Jose Theodore (Played out of his mind with ten saves in the third)
3. Ryan Smyth (Caused havoc on the powerplay, assist, six shots)

Scratches

Scott Parker was in the lineup, as was Dave Jones.

Notable scratches included:

Kyle Cumiskey: As expected, Cumiskey was scratched in favor of Salei.

Wojtek Wolski: Quenville benched Wolski last year to try and motivate him to play harder. Wolski has scored just one goal in 2008.

Jaroslav Hlinka: Scratched for the second straight game, I doubt Hlinka will see many more games this season.

Jeff Finger: Still injured.

Clark Update

It has now been reported that Brett Clark is out for the season. There is no word on whether or not he'd be able to possibly return for the playoffs.

Forsberg Update

Although Forsberg practiced with the team yesterday in Vancouver, he was unable to fly back to Colorado because of problems securing a Visa. Forsberg's paper work may still take a few days to process. Look for him back on Saturday, but it's not unlikely that we'll have to wait until next week for his debut.

Next Up

The Avs have a bit of a break until Saturday night when they take on the Los Angeles Kings in Denver. With any luck, Peter Forsberg will be in the lineup.

On the Bubble

6. Calgary - 75 Points (18 Games Remaining)
7. Vancouver - 73 Points (19 Games Remaining)
8. COLORADO - 72 POINTS (17 GAMES REMAINING)
9. Nashville - 72 Points (17 Games Remaining)
10. Phoenix - 69 Points (18 Games Remaining)

Because they have played the same amount of games, Minnesota is now the division leader (75 points) because they have more wins than Calgary.

With the win, Colorado moved into a tie with Nashville for 8th place but has more wins at this point.

Video Fix

During the first intermission of the game last night, Darwin Head did something we all dream of.

Watch the full eight minutes. It's worth it.

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