Contributed by resident analyst, Tilt’d Toledo
True to form, Colorado once again raised their level of play against a tough Western Conference rival. When faced with strong opposition, the Avs have continued to respond with impressive efforts. Last night’s game-winning goal was the result of some hard work deep in the Dallas zone by second-line center, Tyler Arnason, who battled to send the puck behind the net to Cody McLeod, who then stepped out front and squeezed a shot past Marty Turco. With both of their top lines clicking, Colorado is proving to be tough to beat, despite a spate of injuries that has seen Kyle Cumiskey and David Jones join team leaders Joe Sakic, Paul Stastny and Adam Foote on the sidelines. The revamped top six forwards now includes the likes of tough guy McLeod and journeyman Arnason, who are both repaying coach Tony Granato’s trust in them, over the past few games.
Peter Budaj took another step towards securing the everyday job in net with another strong performance. The score was still doughnuts with 40 seconds remaining in the first period, when Matt Niskanen sent a slap-pass from the blue line to the side of the net, where red hot Steve Ott got his stick on it for a beautiful redirect over Budaj’s shoulder to open the scoring. Not to be outdone, Milan Hejduk responded with a gorgeous top shelf effort of his own in the second period, to tie the game. With less than a minute to go in the frame, Ott was called for hooking and Colorado’s power play continued into the third period. Parked at the side of the net, Marek Svatos took a feed from Wojtek Wolski to give the Avs their first lead of the game. It was Svatos’ third goal this week as he begins to heat up. Loui Eriksson drew the Stars even on a one-timer, but with seven minutes remaining, McLeod walked out front for the winner. Budaj wasn’t tested as often as in his past ten outings, so credit the defence for containing Dallas’ numerous offensive weapons. Scott Hannan led the team with 5 Blocked Shots. When called upon, Budaj showed flashes of greatness, including a nice save on a 6-on-5, with only 20 seconds remaining to seal the victory.
Man of the match for Dallas: Ott, who led the team in shots, hits and face-off wins, despite taking the unfortunate penalty
Av of the match: Hejduk, who walked into the crease unmolested and roofed a beauty, and added an assist with 7 shots