Pavel Francouz #39 of the Colorado Avalanche

No Goals, No Win

Colorado came storming out of the gate versus Anaheim in SoCal on Wednesday, only to see the first period of their game yield no goals for either side. It was a surprising result, on two counts. On the one hand, Colorado was scary early, with shots and chances from Rantanen and Makar. On the other hand, along the way, Anaheim had two power play opportunities, the energy of which was partly compromised by the absence of all three of Troy Terry, Sonny Milano, and Cam Fowler. No scoring resulted.

The   highlight of the period between two speedy teams was thus a fight between meathead MacDermid and meathead DesLauriers. It went on for more than a minute, and was predicated on a mistaken read by DeLo of a “hit” which was really more Kevin Shattenkirk of the Ducks running into MacDermid, with MacD not knowing what his offense was, than MacDermid targeting the Ducks’ newly prolific scoring DMan. Still, there’s a “code,” right?

Nevertheless, it was the fifth go between the two over the past couple of years. Who won? Who ever wins these things? But to play in the NHL and make $800k to do this is what energizes some people, and fans seem to appreciate this.

Period one ended with  the shots 11-8 in favor of the Ducks, with  the last shot of the  Avs being Rantanen again, going in and shooting off Gibson’s shoulder. It was a good period for netminders—lots of action and shots, no goals.

Period two wound on with no scoring despite hard play on both sides. As the period went on, it felt like a playoff game—the kind where each side puts forth its most intense effort because both know goals are so precious. Some of the best action came in the last five minutes, as for example when Sam Steel cruised in off a turnover on the left side, tried the five-hole, and saw the  goalie (Francouz) seal up the space low.

On the other end of the ice, with about two minutes left, Burakovsky put the puck low, but Gibson got where he needed to be to make the stop. And the first goal of the game came shortly after, in favor of the Avs. With 1:31 left, Sam Girard scored with a puck that appeared to bounce off a skate or may have been otherwise changed in course. Didn’t matter—Colorado was up, 1-0.

Period three opened with Getzlaf whipping a shot high and wide, and Rakell putting a puck off the glass and wide. The Avs shortly took a penalty, but they turned that into a shorthanded chance with O’Conner coming down the left side and then shielding the puck by turning his body and flipping to the blocker side. Gibson held the fort.

On the PP, the Ducks were, as so often, guilty of too much thinking—as in, one or two passes too many. Their PP chance yielded just one shot on goal. The Avs then had an apparent goal waved off. The puck was saved by Gibson, then lost, then covered by him again. The Avs dove in and poked the puck into the net, but the whistle blew and the play was presumed dead on the “intent to blow” the whistle principle.

The refs then called offsetting minor penalties. This was approximately at the eleven-to-go marker. The open ice didn’t yield anything, though Getzlaf and Comtois had a chance. Getzlaf could not get the puck to spring free and it ended up going the other way.

The Avs held that meagre one-goal lead as the five-minute mark passed by, then the four. The Ducks iced the puck with 3:26 left, and then went offside. Nothing in synch? Maybe, but they tried. There was 2:35 left when they pulled Gibson. Still no luck, and not even any near chances. The Ducks did get a gift when the Avs went offside just after the netminder was pulled. That could have been the empty-net goal chance that sealed it.

Rantanen and Comtois collided near the end, on a play that Rantanen didn’t anticipate. No mistake on either part there, and all was well after the whistle blew. Gibson was briefly back in net for the ensuing faceoff and then out again with about a minute and a half left. Still no action as far as Anaheim goals would go. Don’t read that to say it wasn’t a  good game. There just wasn’t a lot passing  the goal line.

The  Avs got a goal into a goalkeeper-less net with  about one minute to go, Kadri floating a puck in from the blueline. They came close to a couple more in the last minute or so.

So this was the old truth—at some point, you have to score at least one—and the Ducks couldn’t do it. They’re back to the frustrating failures of last year, when Gibson played incredibly but didn’t have the goal support he needed on a nightly basis.

The stats go like this: Ducks win shots 34-28. O’Connor and Rantanen each had four shots for the  Avs. Steel and Silfverberg each had five for the Ducks.  But for Anaheim, no standings points.

 

Notes

The game was on TNT, which yielded the energy of  Gretzky, Bissonette, Carter, and a host in the  intermission. A couple of months ago, this seemed like a gimmick. Now, it’s actually funny. The commentators, including Pang, are less amusing.

The Avs are now 9-0-1 in their last ten games.

The two teams will not meet again this year. Colorado now heads up I-5 to LA for a game Thursday night.

Grammar note to Darren Pang: “to he” is never correct. “To him” is always correct. That’s called “object of the preposition,” which might extend past the knowledge of a former goalie. Maybe next time you’ll get it right.

Francouz has one shutout, in February 2020, against Anaheim. Make that two after tonight.