After a two-plus week stretch where the Avs looked like the team that us Avs faithful had hoped and longed for, and gaining 11 out of 16 possible points, the team hit a monstrous wall in the third period (sound familiar?) and fell right back to Earth, where most "experts" had predicted.
The Avs gave up a very early goal on what seemed like a defensive breakdown in front of the net as a bunch of Avs players just stood around, letting Craig Adams skate right up to the puck and put it in the net on a shot that Budaj would've had on one of his good nights. The Avs didn't let them get that down though as MVP #2, Chris Stewart, shot an absolute BOMB from the point, Rob Blake-style, off of a beautiful drop-pass from Lappy, and beat the Bulin Wall top-shelf. This guy is here to stay, my friends, and I couldn't be happier for him. Lappy followed up his assist with a nice tip-in goal in front of the net, coming on the end of a great play by JM-Liles, who had by far his best game of the season. He took the puck from deep in the Avs zone and skated all the way down to nearly the Chicago goal-line, before feeding it to the front of the net as both Lappy and Stewy crashed the net for the tip in. Lappy got his stick on it, and then proceeded to give Johnny one of his patented post-goal kisses and exclaimed something along the lines of "What a f****n play!". As JM was skating across the red-line during the play, I said to my dad, "Look at Bobby Orr out there", and lo and behold, he actually finished the play in Bobby Orr fashion.
The second period didn't see much action, save for the Hawks tying the game at two on yet another goal that Mr. Budaj should've had. Four minutes into the third, however, Wojtek Wolski decided to take the game into his own hands, and made a play that Toews and Kane could only dream of, as he split through two defenders as he crossed the blue-line and made no mistake in burying the puck top-shelf. Could this be the start of a breakout year for Wooly? I sure f'n hope so! However, in the typical Avalanche style that we, as fans, have grown accustomed to since the lockout, the team decided to blow a third period lead, and not even get to overtime to secure a point. Hawks Goal #3 was ANOTHER goal that Budaj 100% should've had, as he let in an extremely weak five-hole goal to someone not necessarily known for scoring. Hawks Goal #4 came three seconds after the end of an Avs penalty, and I think was a result of the players just being dead-tired out there.
This was a very important game for the Avs, as a win would've put them within striking distance of the division lead, but this loss sets them towards the back of the pack, where they've spent most of the season thus far. This was a very winnable game, as the team had the lead with only 10 minutes to go. The loss is a bit inexcusable to me because I really feel they should've won this one, if it weren't for the bad goals Budaj let in. I am a big Budaj supporter, and maybe he was tired from being over-played due to the lack of a quality backup, but he really should've made those saves in a game with this significance. I know you can't win 'em all, but this was one that should've been won by the burgundy and blue.