Sharks Outmuscle Avalanche to 3-2 Victory - Colorado Avalanche Updates, News and Game Reviews at Avs Talk

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Sharks Outmuscle Avalanche to 3-2 Victory

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
You know, this was actually a good hockey game to watch. I mean, if you weren't an Avalanche fan hoping for one measly road win at some point before the year is out. If you were a San Jose fan or just a casual fan, this game had some fast-paced hockey with lots of juicy checks. Not the cheap kind either - I'm looking at you Phaneuf - but legit, solid, finish-your-man checks.

However even the smash-mouth style hockey wasn't able to keep me up for the entire game. Due to a 9:30 start, friggin' Pacific games, the game still wasn't over by the time time I went down for the count. I woke up, checked the score online, silently cursed, then headed for bed deciding that nobody would be in the mood for a recap that late in the evening.

But everybody's ready now, right?

First Period
The game really got off on a sour note as Jaroslav Hlinka took an uber-lazy holding penalty on Joe Thornton. Midway through the penalty, Thornton found himself wide open in the low slot and you could read Budaj's thoughts: "Oh man, he's going five-hole. I know it. But if I go down, he's going high blocker. I know it. Oh man." And while he was thinking that, Thornton potted a quick wrister through the five-hole. You can't give Thornton a microsecond alone in the slot let alone a full 3 seconds by himself.

Jeremy Roenick then welcomed Hannan back to HP Pavilion with a stick to the face. Accidental for sure, but a penalty nonetheless. Then when Kyle McLaren got called for tripping just a minute in, the opportunity was ripe for the Avalanche to tie the game on a 5-on-3.

They squandered that opportunity though as they moved the puck around well but forgot that you don't get points for puck movement, only for goals. The team looked very flustered after the penalties were over and San Jose really got a boost out of that kill.

The Sharks really started laying on the body at this point but to the Avs credit, they dealt it right back. Of course it looked a bit like a comedy caper where the bad guy knocks the cop down, the cop then tries to knock the bad guy down but still gets knocked on his ass.

The teams most diminuitive player, Kyle Cumiskey, was one of the few to actually get a knockdown as he laid out Mike Grier at the end of a rush. Of course, Mike Grier then returned the favor on the same shift by plastering Cumiskey into the boards. I both hated and loved that moment. Hated because an Avalanche got plastered, loved because it was a perfect example of the way the game should be played and the way retribution should get dealt out. Legally.

Second Period
Joe Sakic has an uncharacteristic moment where he got a bit pissed off. It led him to take a bonehead penalty by slashing Devon Setoguchi on the hands. And guess who was there to make the team pay for it? That's right, Joe Thornton.

It was actually a funny goal to watch. Thornton was again alone down low and Budaj, having gone through this one already, was down and covering the corner. However the endless patience of Thornton wore out Budaj who decided to stand up and maybe get ready for a pass. The second he started moving up, Thornton buried it between his legs. I laughed and cried all at once.

Jeff Finger got called for a hook late in the 2nd and you could feel the walls closing in. The Sharks were already 2-for-3 on the powerplay and a goal at this point would essentially cement the win. However it was not to be as Paul Stastny took advantage of a misplay at the blueline by Craig Rivet. He streaked past him, drawing a penalty, and went in on a 2-on-1 with Hejduk. It was a perfectly played 2-on-1 as Hejduk basically kept his stick on the ice to redirect Stastny's perfect pass into the net. Shortie! That kind of goal can really turn the tide in a game.

But fret not! Less than 2 minutes later the Sharks restored their 2-goal lead on a bit of a fluke goal. Well, I don't want to say fluke as it was the result of going to the net and never giving up on the part of Mike Grier. Thornton broke down the wing, flipped a pass out front which Liles tried to bat out of the way, but instead batted it off Grier, then off of Budaj's pad and in. A brief review ensued but this was definitely a goal.

Christian Ehrhoff then took a late penalty but who cares, right? The Avalanche PP is terrible on the road. Well, they had a bit of a redeeming moment as only 8 seconds into the penalty, Andrew Brunette scored a goal off of Kyle McLaren's skate to make it a one goal game again.

Third Period
I missed pretty much the entire third period as I was drifting in and out and finally out for good about halfway through. I did catch the scrum that ensued after Mike Grier crosschecked Andrew Brunette behind the goal, leading Sakic to take offense and wrestle a bit with Marc-Edouard Pickles Vlasic. Wojtek Cherries Wolski and Patrick Rismiller got the gate as they wrestled for a bit too long.

Oh, and you might be saying "Cherries?" Well, the other day while shopping at Extra Foods, I noticed a brand of canned cherries with a name of "Wolski's Canned Cherries". So if Vlasic can be known as "Pickles", I shall now refer to Wolski, on and off, as "Cherries". Nobody else in the hockey world has a similar name, right?


Odds and Ends
- T.J. Hensick was in the lineup for Marek Svatos who was out with a groin injury
- Doug Murray is one tough SOB
- Marleau picked up his game tonight even though he was held off the scoreboard
- Hannan played another solid game
- Budaj was solid even though he didn't make any flashy saves
- Drew Remanda is the most opinionated announcer I've ever listened to
- I hate Joe Thornton, but in a respectful, I-don't-want-to-play-against-him kind of way
- Sharks fans booed Hannan which I thought was terribly unclassy

Scott Hannan and Brett Clark were the ice-time leaders with 24:35 and 24:25 respectively. Both were playing some good physical hockey tonight. No huge open-ice hits but some solid finishing checks along the boards. Kurt Sauer only had 10:29 in ice-time tonight and according to the TOI chart he only had one shift in the third. Hmm...

The teams dished out a combined 57 hits on the night. McLaren and Rivet led the way with 4 each for the Sharks. Guite and Sauer dished out 4 each on the Avalanche end while Hannan and Clark had 3 each. 3 D-men helping lead the way in hits. What a novel idea.

The Avalanche were beaten in the faceoff circle which hasn't been happening lately. Sakic was a dreadful 2 for 11 and Stastny was 6 for 18. Smith was 3 for 4 and Arnason was 6 for 11 to help boost the average.

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