The Colorado Avalanche tried to extend their four-game home winning streak to five Tuesday night, as they hosted the red-hot Atlanta Thrashers, who were trying to extend their own winning streak to six.
From the first puck drop, all the way until the end of the first period, the Thrashers controlled the flow of the game. With a club using speed as their weapon, much like the Avs do, the Thrashers spent most of the period firing shot after shot towards Avs goalie Peter Budaj.
By the end of the first, the Thrashers were outshooting the Avs 15-8, and had three power-play chances. Although the score was 1-0, in favor of the Thrashers, the Avs didn’t give up a power-play goal, a weak spot for this high-scoring team.
The penalty-kill was the one strong area that the Avs did well in during the first, but still allowed many shots towards Budaj.
Rich Peverley scored the lone goal from the short-side, a shot that Budaj would love to get back. Even though Budaj did manage to turn aside the remaining 14 shots, he was outplayed by counterpart Ondrej Pavelec.
Pavalec was giving an outstanding performance in net, even only facing eight shots in the first period. The Avs did create a couple of scoring chances, but Pavelec denied the Avs, even a point-blank chance from Paul Stastny
The Avs finally started to use their speed and started to generate some pressure in the Thrashers zone in the second period. The Avs even had a couple of power-play chances, with some high-quality scoring opportunities, but were unable to solve Pavelec.
The second period was a stalemate that sent the Avs in the second intermission still down by one goal.
At the start of the third, Matt Duchene took control of the game, when he scored his seventh goal of the season 1:43 into the final stanza. Duchene’s goal gave some life not only to the Avs, but to a docile Pepsi Center.
“I think we just came out and started skating,” said Avs Shattenkirk. “Obviously we found our speed with some desperation. I think we had a chance to come back. We were aware that we were down the whole game, and we just got pucks deep and worked it down low.”
The Avs continued to press the puck deep into the Thrashers zone, as well as continue to throw puck after puck towards Pavelec.
It wasn’t until Evander Kane committed an interference penalty half-way through the period that gave the Avs the lead. David Jones tipped a shot from Kevin Shattenkirk to score his 11th goal of the season, while on the power-play.
Everything seemed to be going the Avs way and they were going to pull off yet another comeback win.
That dream came crashing down when Dustin Byfuglien sent a rocket from the point past Budaj. Budaj didn’t see it coming, and Jones was lying on the ice, as he blocked the previous Byfuglien shot.
With the Thrashers being an out of conference opponent, the Avs played it simple to ensure at least a point. That was until Nik Antropov seemed to hand the game over to the Avs, as he took a tripping penalty late in the third period.
The Avs did their best to end the game before the period’s end, but were again shutdown by Pavelec.
In overtime, the Avs had a four on three and sent Duchene, Stastny, John-Michael Liles and Milan Hejduk to secure the victory. They couldn’t get the job down, and only a minute later did Anthony Stewart (Chris Stewart’s brother) send the puck past Budaj.
“I thought he was going to wrap it around,” stated Budaj. “It was just a weak shot on net and I should have stopped it. It was a bad goal.”
What seemed like a glorious comeback for the Avs, turned into a bittersweet one point night in a matter of seconds.
“When you have a four on three for that amount of time we had, we just didn’t generate enough chances,” said Avs Coach Joe Sacco. “It wasn’t good enough.”
Despite losing in overtime, the Avs one point was enough to pass the idol Vancouver Cancuks for first place in the Northwest Division. The Avs will spend the next five games on the road, starting with a visit to the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.