Damn, that felt good!
The Avalanche took down the Winged Wheel by a score of 6-5 in a game that needed 5 shootout rounds to decide the winner.
For those counting, that's 3-0 against the Evil Empire this season. Yep, the team sitting last in the Western Conference was able to take down one of the best teams in the league three out of three times and has officially taken the season series regardless of what goes down on March 4th.
Ain't that just a kick in the pants?
Ian Laperriere scored just 16 seconds into the first period and Wings and Avs fans alike were shocked. If anyone would score first, you'd think it would be the Wings loaded offense against a 3.00+ GAA goaltender in Andrew Raycroft.
The remainder of the first period was fairly sloppy. Nearly as sloppy as Chris Osgood's puck handling abilities. The Avalanche killed off the first of their three 5-on-3 situations - conspiracy my ass, Wings fans - and headed in to the locker room with a 1-0 lead.
The second period opened with the Lappy line and once again, they didn't disappoint. They pushed the puck deep into the Wings zone and then Laperriere got in front of Osgood to help create havoc in front of him, allowing a Ruslan Salei point shot to find the twine.
2-0 and the feelings of "Is this real life?" were starting to kick in.
The question was quickly answered with four penalties, two 5-on-3 sequences and two Red Wings PP goals in the span of 2 1/2 minutes. Tack on a beauty Marian Hossa goal at 8:58 and real life was rearing its ugly head with a 3-2 Wings lead.
Then the third period started and everyone was thinking "It can't happen again." But happen it did. Andreas Lilja took a penalty just nine seconds into the period which ended at the 1:01 mark when Marek Svatos got a stick on a Wojtek Wolski shot to even things up at 3-3.
Marian Hossa put the Wings up 4-3, Ben Guite tied it up. Jiri Hudler put the Wings up 5-4, Milan Hejduk tied it up. Who would have thought the Avs would have the gumption to keep battling back against the Wings?
The Avalanche held off a late onslaught from the Wings to take it to OT. An OT which proved fairly uneventful so it was off to a shootout.
I won't detail all the shooters since it went five rounds, but suffice to say that Hejduk is still money and when Leopold scored to end it, I leaped out of my chair with more joy than should be afforded to simply cheering for the winning team in a sporting event.
Tonight, I'm going to revel in the honeymoon phase of this win. Because when I wake up tomorrow, it will be to a bleak, uncertain future.
The Avalanche still get undisciplined when caught for an extended time in their own zone. The wingers leaving their d-men to go "help out" leaves a wide-open cycle game for the opposition.
The Hossa or Franzen question should be answered by now. If it has to be one, it has to be Hossa.
The Wings announcers were bemoaning the "bounces not going their way" early in the first period. I guess it's not just Granato. It's merely a common refrain from the losing team.
But hey, what can you expect from an announcing squad who sound like they're on downers all game long? Here's some gems:
"Probably a hold on Colorado." - Nope, Interference on the Wings.
"It's a 2-2 tie." - Nope, it was 3-2 at that point
"Wings have three games in hand on the Sharks." - Nope, Sharks have three in hand on the Wings.
Please, please, please let me have the Altidudes next game. At least they have energy and factual statements.
The conspiracy theories should be able to be put to bed after Mikael Samuellson jumped on Ben Guite, ground his face into the ice, then popped up scot-free to help create a screen on the 5-4 goal. If that one had stood up to be the winner, I would have been pissed. But I wouldn't have blamed Bettman.
But hey, Ruslan Salei got away with a high stick in the final minutes so...conspiracy back on!
Line of the night
Ian Laperriere, CodyMcCormick and Ben Guite were the line of the night tonight. Granato wisely opened the first two periods with that crew and they rewarded him both times with early goals.
Not content with just scoresheet contributions, they drew a penalty which led to the Avs third goal and were busting their asses all night.
If Giguere wants to trade Lappy, I won't be happy unless a first-rounder comes over to the Avs.
And I would guess Guite didn't appreciate being benched in favor of players like Darcy Tucker and Tyler Arnason. Hopefully he's shown Granato that he should stay in the lineup.
Goaltender of the night
No question here, Andrew Raycroft gets the nod with a 40-save performance. But it's not like Chris Osgood gave him any competition with his own 23-save performance.
I still find Andrew Raycroft overplays a lot of shots but who am I to complain when he gets the job done?
On conspiracies and injuries