The Colorado Avalanche continued their season long road trip in style, with a nail-biting shootout victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Rookie Gabriel Landeskog scored his first NHL goal in the final minute of the third period to tie the game, and Matt Duchene scored the game winning goal in the shootout as Colorado escaped with the victory.
They will meet a familiar face in net tonight, as former Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson will be the starting netminder for the Ottawa Senators. Anderson was traded from Colorado to Ottawa in exchange for Brian Elliott last spring at the deadline and performed well enough ( .939 SV%, 2.05 GAA) to earn a three year contract from the Senators.
This season remains a different story. Behind a porous defense (29th in the league in goals against), Anderson has surrendered 12 goals on just 90 shots, for a .867 SV%. Furthermore, the Senators have been playing catch-up all season; down 5-0 against Detroit, down 4-0 against Toronto, and down 2-0 against Minnesota. They overtook the Wild in a shootout for their first point of the season, but large deficits early in the game has been the standard so far for Ottawa.
The Avalanche have played a completely different style of hockey this season, emphasizing strong defense and penalty kill. Semyon Varlamov has been a wonder in net, posting a .960 SV% this season. While Colorado's power play has yet to score a goal in 10 attempts, the penalty kill unit is perfect in 10 kills so far this season. For comparison, last year's Avalanche team killed a mere 76.11% of penalties they faced.
Colorado has won two of three games despite only scoring four goals on the season -- three in the victory over Columbus. But there are some promising signs for the offense: a team-wide 3.1% shooting percentage suggests that Colorado has faced some extremely difficult goaltending early this season and some overall bad luck. Some of those shots will stop ringing off posts in the near future.
New goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere will get his first start in goal for Colorado, giving Varlamov a much-deserved break.
Face off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. MDT.