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Avalanche Comeback Fails, Lose 4-3 to Oilers

AJ Haefele Avatar
March 26, 2015

With the Avalanche season all but over entering tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers, there was a sense coming into this game that a letdown was inevitable. Facing the 28th place team in a 30-team league two nights after being all but eliminated from the playoff race, the start of the game was the kind of deflating effort that you frequently see with teams. 3 Oilers goals in the first 10 minutes left the Avs in a 3-0 hole after the first period, the kind of deficit you rarely see teams overcome in hockey.

Of course, this is Patrick Roy’s team and that means fighting tooth and nail to the bitter end, something the Avs did as they dominated the last 40 minutes of the game, tying it early in the third period before giving up what turned out to be a game-winning power play goal to the Oilers with just over 9 minutes remaining in the game. How did we get there? Let’s look at tonight’s keys to the game and see where the Avs succeeded and failed.

Keys to the Game:

Get Shots on Goal: This is the most prominent of the Avs’ offensive struggles this season, so it gets a permanent place as the first key to any game. The Avs actually finished this game with a whopping 44 shots on goal to Edmonton’s 34, but being down 3-0 so early in the game means being subjected to score effects (teams with leads of 2 or more goals sit back as the trailing team pours in the shots in an attempt to tie the game), which is where you can easily see the Avalanche gaudy shot totals come as a result of. The Avalanche outshot the Oilers in periods 1 and 2 but upon tying the game, fell off the table as the Oilers woke back up and started playing both ends of the ice again. Advantage: Colorado

Win Special Teams Battle – The Avs have a horrible power play this season, 29th in the league, and a great penalty kill, 6th in the league. While the Avs did actually net a power play goal in this one, they failed twice in the third to score with the man advantage, finishing 1/5 on the night, including a 6-on-4 at the end of the game with the goalie pulled. With Semyon Varlamov and his league-leading short-handed save percentage on the bench, the Avs failed in their only attempt on the penalty kill. Advantage: Edmonton

Varly Being Varly – Semyon Varlamov has shown he is a top-10 goaltender in the NHL and the backbone of this Avalanche team so when he fails the way he did tonight, it’s not surprising to see the team walk away empty-handed in the standings. Backup Reto Berra made his seventh relief appearance this season just 10 minutes into the game and performed admirably, making several impressive saves en route to stopping 26 of 27 shots, his most impressive performance in months. If there was one big bright positive to pull from this game, it was Berra playing a high-caliber game. Advantage: Edmonton

Respond to Adversity – The Avs were coming off a very emotional loss in Calgary that all but ended their playoff hopes. Most teams respond to that by laying the proverbial egg in their next game. The Avs held true to this standard in the first period as Edmonton built their 3-0 lead but their perseverance paid off as they climbed the mountain and tied the game on Ryan O’Reilly’s 14th goal of the season. Despite this dominance of the second half of the game, the Oilers needed just one power play to net the game-winner and then held off a late surge by the resilient Avs. Advantage: Edmonton

Despite the slow start, it was another strong effort for the Avalanche and Jarome Iginla’s team-leading 25th goal of the season was yet again a bright spot but moral victories don’t count in the standings. Nine games remain on the schedule for this lost regular season as the team looks ahead to the off-season.

3 Stars of the Game:

  1. Derek Roy – Game winning power play goal, 1 shot, 2 hits, 15:59 TOI
  2. Alex Tanguay – 1 goal, 1 assist, 3 shots, 20:20 TOI
  3. Martin Marincin – 1st career NHL goal, 2 shots, 4 PIMs, 23:37 TOI

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