After a dismal performance in Game 3 on Monday against the Minnesota Wild, the Avalanche turned it what may have been an even more disappointing one in Game 4 on Thursday. Colorado produced only 12 shots on goal in a 2-1 loss that evened the series 2-2.
Semyon Varlamov did his part to keep the Avalanche in the game as he put together a third straight fantastic performance, with 30 saves including 14 in the first period.
Just like in Game 3, the Wild came out flying on their home ice putting relentless pressure on the Avalanche in the Wild offensive zone. Then at 3:47 of the first Jared Spurgeon put the Wild on the board with his first goal of the series. Spurgeon skated into the slot from the blue line and was un-noticed by P.A. Parenteau in front and Spurgeon took a pass from Parise, beating Varlamov for the 1-0 lead.
Charlie Coyle made it a 2-0 game in the second period with his third goal of the playoffs on a bit of a fluky play. Jason Pominville fired a shot from the right circle that missed the net but took a strange bounce off the glass and landed in front where Coyle was and he fired it past Varlamov who looked like he thought it went out of play at 12:55.
Looking like they were down and out, Ryan O'Reilly needed just 30 seconds to get the Avalanche back in the game. O'Reilly came down the right circle and flipped a shot that somehow found it's way through Darcy Kuemper's five hole as the Avalanche cut the lead to 2-1.
Colorado's power play has been an issue all series and Thursday it was no better, the Avalanche went 0-for-4 and still have only one goal with a man advantage in the series.
The Avalanche got a golden opportunity late to tie the game as Jonas Brodin was called for hooking with 2:15 left in the third giving Colorado a 6-on-4 advantage with Varlamov pulled, but the Avalanche were unable to find the same magic like they did in Game 1 as the Wild defense blocked several shots and were helped by a Kuemper glove save, one of his 11 saves on the night.
Joey Hishon made his NHL debut for the Avalanche playing a total shifts for 6:38 of ice time.
The series will return to Denver for Game 5 on Saturday night with both teams having the chance to take command of the series. Face off is slated for 7:30 at Pepsi Center. Patrick Roy said after the game on Thursday that injured forward Matt Duchene will not be ready to play in Game 5 but did not rule him out for Game 6.
THREE STARS OF THE GAME
Mikael Granlund – 1 assist
Jared Spurgeon – 1 goal
Charlie Coyle – 1 goal
The Colorado Avalanche have recalled C Joey Hishon from the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League. Hishon will take the roster spot of D Tyson Barrie who was injured in Game Three following a knee-on-knee collision with Minnesota Wild F Matt Cooke.
Hishon was drafted by the Avalanche 17th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Hishon will be available to enter the Avalanche lineup for Game Four and Head Coach Patrick Roy could choose to play him depending on how he performs in practice on Wednesday.
Roy announced on Tuesday that Ryan Wilson will take Tyson Barrie's place in Game Four with the defensive core, after being a healthy scratch for the first three games.
Matt Cooke to have in person hearing
Matt Cooke has been invited by the NHL to attend a hearing in person for his knee-on-knee hit on Barrie in Game Three. The hearing will take place in New York on Wednesday afternoon.
An in person hearing means that the league can suspend Cooke at least five games for the incident, and could receive a lengthy suspension given his history and having already been suspended six times.
Barrie will miss 4-6 weeks with an MCL sprain.
Ryan O'Reilly named finalist for Lady Byng Award
Avalanche forward Ryan O'Reilly was named a finalist for the Lady Byng trophy, which is awarded to the player that is judged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct. O'Reilly tallied a career high 64 points and was penalized for just one minor penalty this season.
Martin St. Louis of the New York Rangers and Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks were the other two nominees.