Starting a blog in the middle of two of the sports seasons you intend to write about can be difficult. For writing about the Colorado Avalanche it actually comes at a perfect game.
Coming into a game against the Arizona Coyotes, the Avalanche were two points behind the Minnesota Wild, the divisional rivals, for the second wild card spot. Minnesota seemed to be surging while the Avalanche struggled to stay in close competition. Semyon Varlamov and the Avs proved that they were far from done on Monday night.
In a much needed 3-1 win over the Coyotes, the Avalanche tied the Wild in the wild card and kept pace. The win was an important one, but perhaps more importantly was Varlamov returning to the form that the Avs and the fans expected of him. Varlamov made 37 of 38 saves while claiming the number one star of the game, very deservedly I might add.
Simply put, the Avalanche needed to win this one and they needed to control this one. Leading the game going into the third has been nothing short of an adventure for the Avs this season as they seemingly play two periods of hockey only to come out into the third period as a different team who doesn’t know how to close out games. That was not the case Monday night and despite giving up 13 shots and a goal in the third period, the Avalanche held on for the win.
The Avalanche special teams were on fire tonight, killing all three power plays and going 1-2 on their own power play chances. Over the last 20 penalty kill opportunities the Avs have allowed zero goals, proving their worth and prowess on the penalty kill. Matt Duchene scored his career high 28th goal of the season on the power play, the eventual game winning goal.
Also scoring for the Avalanche was Mikhail Grigorenko, his 5th of the season, and Shawn Matthias, his 8th of the season. Both Duchene and Grigorenko had a goal and assist. Boyd Gordon scored the only goal for the Coyotes in the third period.
- Chris Bigras was a healthy scratch tonight for the first time since being called up from the AHL.
- Varlamov came back strong from his first game since being pulled against the Wild 6 days ago in a 6-3 loss.
- The Avalanche play the Pacific division leading Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday at home.
- This was Alex Tanguay’s first game back in Colorado since being traded to the Coyotes for Mikkel Boedker.