Five points out with five games remaining was the situation the Colorado Avalanche faced coming into tonight's game against the league's best team, the Washington Capitals. The Minnesota Wild actually managed to lose a game last night, giving the Avalanche a glimmer of hope in the form of their one game in hand.
The Caps would come out flying in the first period, trying to extinguish the bit of hope the Avalanche entered the game with. Treating the first more like a 20 minute power play, the final tally would be 15 shots on goal for Washington versus just seven for Colorado with the actual shots towards the net being upwards of 30 for the Caps.
Three posts hit and a clean sheet for Semyon Varlamov would keep the game scoreless and the Avalanche entered the second period with a power play. Despite Varlamov standing on his head all period and making some legitimate save of the year type plays, a neverending string of Avalanche turnovers finally came back to haunt them as Jay Beagle stripped Chris Bigras of the puck behind the Avs net and popped it into the tiniest of openings to make it 1-0.
A Colorado penalty would put Washington on the power play and to the surprise of nobody Alex Ovechkin banged home a rebound to make it 2-0. Washington would waste little time in making it 3-0 as Jason Chimera would make a picture perfect deflection of a shot from the point and it would beat a helpless Varlamov.
The Avalanche would wake up towards the end of the period and find their legs with Braden Holtby stoning multiple golden scoring chances to keep it 3-0. A late power play for the Avalanche would see them finally break through as Jarome Iginla would get his 20th of the season on a nice pass across the goal mouth from Gabriel Landeskog and the Avs would take a little momentum into second intermission despite being down 3-1.
Despite being down and playing for their playoff lives, the Avalanche would go about 12 minutes into the third period without a shot on goal. In true Avalanche style, the Avalanche would find a way to make them count as Landeskog would score on a scramble in front of Holtby just minutes after he was denied on a wrap around chance to make it 3-2 with just over five minutes remaining in the game.
The Capitals would flex their muscles late game and pot an empty-net goal with ten seconds remaining to bring the game to its final tally, 4-2.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Chimera's game-winner would hold up and prove to be more important than most imagined it would be at the time it was scored.
Despite being outshot and completely dominated throughout, Landeskog's goal brought the score to 3-2 and gave meaning to final five minutes of a game the Avalanche had no business being in.
BY THE NUMBERS
QUOTE OF THE GAME
"When you don't play .500 hockey at home, it's hard to make the playoffs" - Patrick Roy on his team's poor performance at home this season
The loss is just another in a string of games they needed to win to try to close the gap with Minnesota but now they sit five points back with only four games remaining. Minnesota has just three games left so Colorado still has the tiniest window of hope for making the playoffs.
The Avalanche finish off their short two game homestand by hosting the St. Louis Blues on Sunday, April 3. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 pm MST.