After losing in heartbreaking fashion on Friday night to the Nashville Predators, the Colorado Avalanche had a difficult challenge ahead of them as they flew to Arizona and faced the playoff contending Phoenix Coyotes. With the Avalanche’s recent struggles, the odds were stacked against them. Fortunately, forward Ryan O’Reilly and goalie Peter Budaj shared the spotlight as heroes and Colorado escaped with a 4-3 win in the shootout.
Colorado took an early 1-0 lead late in the first period as Philippe Dupuis’ wrist shot slipped past Ilya Bryzgalov. Avalanche forward Jay McClement made the score 2-0 in the second period. After that, it was all Phoenix.
Goals by Lee Stempniak and Ray Whitney tied the score, and Shane Doan took advantage of a power play, blasting the puck past Budaj halfway through the third period for what appeared to be the game winning goal. But Ryan O’Reilly continued his torrid goal scoring pace of late, rocketing a tough angle shot under Bryzgalov’s armpit with under five minutes to play -- their first and only shot in the period. Budaj stopped shot after shot, surviving a Phoenix power play into overtime and sending the game to the shootout.
O’Reilly became the official hero in the shootout, pushing the puck between Bryzgalov’s pads for the only score of the shootout round.
The victory was Peter Budaj’s 100th career victory. He earned it tonight.