Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Before the game recap, I want to give a gigantic, avalanche-sized congratulations to both Ryan Smyth and Milan Hejduk, who both netted career goals #300 in Sunday's win against the Flames. The majority of Smyth's goals came while playing with Edmonton, but all 300 of Hejduk's came for the good guys. What an accomplishment!
Now, onto the game! The Avs came out stronger on offense than the previous 45 games this year, but it appeared Flames' backup Curtis McElhinney was up for the challenge as he came up with big save after big save, but only managed to keep the Avs off the board for 16 minutes before Marek Svatos was able to bang home a rebound in the crease on the powerplay. Less than two minutes later, Salei hit Stewart with a homerun pass for a breakaway, and Stewey made no mistake in finding the back of the net for his fifth goal of the year. By the end of the first, the Avs were leading the shots on goal margin by a total of 20-8. I could be wrong, but I think that's the biggest one period shot differential in favor of the Avs this season.
Ten minutes into the second period, the game seemed to be turning to an all-too-familiar direction as Cammalerri notched his 20th goal of the season on a perfect cross-ice feed on the powerplay, closing the Flames deficit to only one goal. Less than two minutes later, Ruslan Salei took his second straight penalty, giving the red-hot Flames' powerplay a chance to even the score. BUT never fear, Ben Guite is here! After a big save by Budaj, Smyth took the puck up ice with Guite not too far behind creating a two-on-one chance for the Avs. The Flames were obviously SO terrified of how good Ben is as they left Ryan Smyth alone to take the shot of his choice and he buried career goal #300 in the back of the net. Teammate Milan Hejduk was also sitting at 299 career goals coming into the game, and I guess he figured that since Smytty scored #300, he couldn't be left behind with a mere 299 goals! About five minutes later, he was able to score big #300 as well on a powerplay feed from JML. Haynes' goal calls of "NUMBER 300!!!" were nearly identical, but I loved every second of it.
The Flames cut the score to 4-2 early in the third, but the Avs wouldn't let that last for long as they scored two goals in the final five minutes of the period, courtesy of Salei and MVP Cody McLeod. McLeod's TENTH (yes, you read that right) goal of the season came with less than one second left on the clock, and was the proverbial cherry on the top for all Avs fans, and the proverbial slap in the face for all Flames fans. Budaj had a great comeback game after a recent dry-spell of sorts, stopping 39 of 41 Flames shots.
After the game, Budaj was announced as the third star. Then, Alan Roach announced that there would be no second star of the game, as there were two FIRST STARS. Of course, he was referring to Smyth and Hejduk. It would've been special enough for each of them to reach the milestone at some point during this season, but too accomplish it together on the same night made it that much better. I think the saying "a picture is worth one thousand words" applies well here, as the size of their smiles in the picture above says all you need to know about how special that moment was. Hats off to you, Ryan and Milan. Congratulations.