Friday, February 27, 16, Game 64, 6:00 pm MST
Coors Field, Denver, Colorado
For the past few weeks, anticipation built for tonight’s Stadium Series game at Coors Field. Amongst all the great memories of the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings rivalry, the successful alumni match the night before, and all the festivities, a very important game for both current teams battling for the postseason elevated expectations. The first period launched in front of 50,095 rabid fans with all the energy and competitive nature one could hope for.
The Avalanche came out shooting hard and skating fast. Four minutes into the game and Colorado had already taken five shots while Detroit had yet to shoot on goal. Defenseman Francois Beauchemin recorded his league leading 192nd blocked shot of the season shortly before Tomas Tatar of the Red Wings scored on a rebound to take a 1-0 lead.
Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon tied the game from a feed off captain Gabriel Landeskog’s battle in Colorado’s zone. Detroit moved on the power play off of Andrew Bodnarchuck’s high sticking penalty but were unable to get a single shot. Tyson Barrie scored with a little over five minutes left in the period off a heads-up play from Blake Comeau.
Cody McLeod earned a four minute high sticking penalty on Kyle Quincey after an open ice hit on fellow Avalanche forward John Mitchell. Colorado also successfully killed that penalty. Less than two minutes of full strength play later, captains Gabriel Landeskog and Pavel Datsyuk end up in a scrum and received matching two minute penalties.
While not as fast as the first, the second period started with a lot of back and forth movement with neither team tallying a shot in the first four minutes of play. Red Wings Danny DeKeyser got his stick up on Carl Soderberg and served two minutes in the box, which the Avalanche failed to capitalize on.
Halfway through, both teams had only registered two shots. Colorado defenseman Chris Bigras got called for holding, leading to a fantastic save by Blake Comeau backing up Semyon Varlamov and preventing a Detroit score. With six and a half minutes left, Detroit earned another penalty for too many men on the ice but led to very few scoring chances for Colorado. The period ended with only four shots apiece.
Less than two minutes into the third period, Detroit’s Gustav Nyquist scored an unstoppable goal and tied the game. As the fake snow surrounding the ice rink started blowing onto the ice, Blake Comeau served a two minute penalty for tripping.
The wind became such a factor the teams switched ends of the ice halfway through the period. However, since it was a hard horn there was some controversy about whether there should have been a face off at center ice. The referees simply switched sides and allowed play to continue with a face off in Colorado’s zone.
Detroit picked up the pace and Justin Abdelkader eventually scored off a pass from Darren Helm, putting the Red Wings ahead 3-2 with less than seven minutes remaining. Fourteen seconds later, Alex Tanguay answered with his fourth goal of the season to tie the game. A minute later, Detroit defenseman Mike Green tripped Jarome Iginla leading to yet another woeful Avalanche power play.
With only a minute to go, Detroit’s Brad Richards scores off a rebound that bounces over Varlamov’s head. Coach Patrick Roy pulled the goaltender in an attempt to even the game. After an intense flurry in front of Detroit’s net, their goaltender Peter Mrazek fed Darren Helm a breakaway pass which led to an empty net goal and secured the Red Wings win with a 5-3 lead and nineteen seconds left.
STARS OF THE GAME
1. Brad Richards, Detroit – 1 goal
2. Tomas Tatar, Detroit – 1 goal, 1 assist
3. Nathan MacKinnon – 1 goal, 1 assist
PLAY OF THE GAME
Because this weekend is all about the legendary rivalry between the two teams, tonight’s play of the game is the two team captains fighting it out late in the first period. Both Gabriel Landeskog and Pavel Datsyuk seemed to pick up the physicality from the Alumni game and ended up swinging at each other after wrestling on the ice.
Brad Richards’ goal sucked all the energy out of the Avalanche comeback and Colorado had too little time to overcome the goal.
BY THE NUMBERS
QUOTE OF THE GAME
When asked about goaltender Semyon Varlamov’s performance, Head Coach Patrick Roy responded – “I’m pretty confident Varly’s going to bounce back on the next game in Minny (Minnesota Wild)….” –
The Avalanche could have really benefitted from a win in their battle to make the postseason but still maintain a four point lead over the Minnesota Wild to retain the final wild card spot. The Wild now have only two games in hand so Tuesday night’s head to head matchup could determine if Colorado can shut the door and create some distance between the two teams. The Avalanche are five points behind the Nashville Predators.