Craig Anderson returned to the crease Friday night when the Colorado Avalanche steamrolled the New York Rangers, 5-1, in Denver.
It would seem as if Anderson had never even been injured with his solid play and acrobatic saves. Never was his skill tested more than during the first period when the Rangers were on the power play. Anderson slid across the crease in order to stop an otherwise sure goal.
“He was able to move laterally very quickly and make a big save for us,” said head coach Joe Sacco. Sacco was more than happy with Anderson’s performance and is glad to have him back. “He looked real fresh, he looked quick. He looked certainly like he was ready to play tonight.”
Anderson was impressed with his teammates’ solid penalty killing and with their help keeping pucks out of the net.
“We clicked tonight,” said Anderson. “Everyone was on the same page on the penalty kill. The guys did a great job of allowing me to see the puck tonight. Any time rebounds were left, they were there to pick them up.”
The one weak spot for the Avalanche was the amount of penalties the team acquired. Although the Avs took a lot of penalties, they also did not give up any power play goals.
Sacco was happy that the team was able to continue its stonewall while on the penalty kill.
“It’s two games in a row now when our penalty killing has been good,” he said
Avalanche forward Matt Duchene was able to find his offensive rhythm again with a goal and two assists. His production came mostly during the second period after having been cross-checked in the face during the first period. “
Sometimes that stuff wakes you up a little bit,” said Duchene.
Duchene’s offensive production sparked again during his 100th game.
“It was obviously a big game, he said. “It was pretty amazing to be able to play that many games for your 20th birthday. It was nice to have a good one tonight.”
Sacco attributes Duchene’s offensive reawakening to his hard work. “I thought Matty just dug in there tonight,” he said. “I just thought he dug in there and worked hard.”
Another aspect to Colorado’s success was the team’s ability to put shots on net. “Something we’ve been encouraging our guys to do is to shoot more,” Sacco said. “We often tend to look for the pass first.”
Sacco was also happy that the team was able to play a complete game. “From start to finish it was a real good hockey game for us,” said the Avs coach. “I think we were solid in all three zones.”
The Avalanche finished its three game home stand with three wins, adding to the team’s first winning streak. The Avalanche face off against the Dallas Stars for the second time Saturday in the third of playing two games in two nights.