Capping off another (the sixth straight) victory against the Canucks was pretty "sweet", as the kids are saying these days, but clinching a playoff spot? It felt unbelievably good.
After going down 2-0 in the first, the Avs put together some of their now-famous second period magic by scoring three goals in under four minutes. Liles, Hejduk, and Wolski were the goal scorers and all did it spectacularly.
Liles goal came on the power play on assists from Hejduk and Sakic. The Avs had Luongo down on the ice and Liles put a perfect wrist shot above him.
Hejduk scored in a typical-Hejduk way, by flying into the zone, moving cross ice and firing a forehand behind the netminder.
Wolski's goal was scored when Joe Sakic shot the puck wide, and Wolski, diving to the ice, put it over Luongo's glove.
But the best part...
About five minutes into the third, Brunette fed Peter Forsberg, who moved in all alone on a breakaway and scored his first goal of the season. The goal capped off a 5-2 victory.
Forsberg played for 20 minutes and had two points. He now has 11 points in 8 games this season.
Theodore's Continued Solid Play
Theodore stopped 27 of Vancouver's 29 shots and played extremely well down the stretch, stopping a total of 22 shots in the final two periods. The Avs will not be worried about goaltending come playoff time. Look for a post this week detailing why Jose Theodore might deserve consideration for the Hart Trophy.
Foote Injured (Again)
Adam Foote can't seem to stay healthy for Colorado. He took a cut to the face in the third period and was bleeding on the ice. No word on his injury but it is very possible the Avs will save him for the playoffs.
Remember, the Avs
CLINCHED A PLAYOFF SPOT
Three Stars of the Game
1. Peter Forsberg (1 Goal, 1 Assists, a true game changer - see below)
2. Andrew Brunette (2 Assists, really playing well in offensive zone)
3. Jeff Finger (Playing well at both ends of the ice)
The Avs play their final game of the season - Game 52 - against the Minnesota Wild. The game is on Sunday, 3 PM EST and it could be for the Northwest Division title.
On The Bubble
Since the Avs are no longer on the bubble...
That's better. Lets take a look at the playoff outlook.
5. Dallas - 93 Points (3 Games Remaining) - X
6. COLORADO - 93 POINTS (1 Game Remaining) - X
7. Calgary - 92 Points (2 Games Remaining)
8. Nashville - 89 Points (2 Games Remaining)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
9. Vancouver - 88 Points (2 Games Remaining)
Northwest Division Leader: Minnesota Wild - 95 Points (2 Games Remaining) - X
X = Clinched Playoff Berth
The Oilers were eliminated from playoff contention tonight and the Chicago Blackhawks are a Vancouver win or Nashville OT loss away from being elimnated, so it's going to come down to Nashville and Vancouver for that eight spot.
Looking at the division race, Calgary and Minnesota will play tomorrow. If Calgary wins the rest of their games (Minnesota must be in regulation), then they will win the division. If Minnesota beats Calgary, they will win the division. But if Calgary beats Minnesota and loses their last game, Colorado will have a chance to win the Northwest Division with a regulation win against the Wild on Sunday.
Complicated? Just a bit.
Tomorrow's Key Games
Not much brewing tonight. But tomorrow holds some important games in store.
Nashville vs St. Louis
The Predators came back from a 3-0 deficit to win in OT against the Blues on Tuesday and the Blues will be looking for revenge. The Preds know they hold their own destiny. Will they take advantage?
Dallas vs Phoenix
For the Avs to take the fifth seed, the Stars would have to go 0-2-1 and the Avs would have to win on Sunday, but hey, it's certainly possible.
Calgary vs Minnesota
The difference between the sixth seed (playing Minnesota/Calgary) and the seventh seed (playing San Jose) is actually pretty big so some people will say they want the Wild to win this game and keep the Flames in seventh.
Edmonton vs Vancouver
Edmonton's fantastic stretch run is over but they would love to play spoiler. A Canucks loss and Nashville OT loss would eliminate Vancouver from the playoffs.
In Tomorrow's Post
I'll look at the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Things are pretty hot out there, with several teams vying for a spot. Remember, not one matchup, in either conference, has been determined.
Enjoy watching the Avalanche clinch a playoff spot against the Canucks. Forsberg's goal is at the 2:50 mark.