It has been 10 years since the two teams faced each other in the Stanley Cup finals. Although much has changed between the Devils and Avalanche since then, the same team that won the Cup that year won this game, as the Avalanche blew out the Devils, 6-1.
Colorado dominated the first period from the onset as under 10 minutes in, the Avalanche scored two goals: the first as Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O'Reilly work the puck in the zone and feed it to Milan Hejduk, who scores his eighth goal of the season. In the second goal, the Devils went down 2-0 as T.J. Galiardi took a turnover taken from behind the net and pushed the puck with a backhand past Brodeur, unassisted.
The Devils earned a power play as Ryan O'Byrne received an unsportsmanlike penalty for going to throw down with David Clarkson. Unfortunately for New Jersey, just under a minute into the man advantage, the Devils went off for a penalty of their own and set the ice to 4-on-4 hockey. Jan Hejda blasts the puck from the point, making the Devils pay for their mistake and stretching the lead to 3-0 by the end of the first.
Down by a considerable amount, the Devils made an effort to come back in the second period. New Jersey was doing a much better job at getting shots (the second period was the only period the Devils outshot the Avalanche, 9-6), maintaining possession of the puck, and giving up odd-man rushes to the Avs -- which was the dagger in the first period for the Devils. With just under nine minutes left, NJ earned a goal back, as Ilya Kovalchuk found a bouncing puck around the crease and got the last touch on it to get it past Semyon Varlamov. The Devils appeared to have full control of the game at this point, as the Avs struggled to gain scoring oportunities. It seemed as though the third period may be in for a comeback...
...Except the Avalanche came right back in the third period, bloodthirsty as ever. Just under three minutes into the third, Hejduk's new linemate O'Reilly skipped a puck over Brodeur and stretched the Avs' lead back to three goals.
Of course, it wouldn't be a 2011 Devils' game with out a shorthanded goal allowed, as N.J. has given up the most shorthanded goals in the league with five coming into this game. Those counting at home can add another shorty, as the Avs' Kyle Quincey retrieved a turnover and fed it back to Jay McClement.
With under three minutes left, the Avalanche took advantage of another 4-on-4 goal and off of the faceoff won by O'Reilly, Quincey sent the puck to defenseman Stefan Elliot for the final goal of Colorado's rout.
Brodeur only faced 25 shots, but with his defense turning the puck over in neutral zone and failing to backcheck without the same trap style they've played for years , the Devils were having a hard time being consistent with pressure and keeping the Avalanche from gaining offensive opportunities. It also didn't help that the Devils' power play, ranked 26th in the league, has a 12.2% efficiency percentage.
The Avalanche score the third fewest goals at home out of every team in the league. That didn't stop them from controlling the momentum and scoring flow of the game. Joe Sacco, who is probably one of the few coaches out there still on the hot seat, decided to make massive line changes to his normal lineup. Switching the player around, however, seems to have worked, as Hejduk worked with the two rookies, and everyone was able to achieve gaining at least a point.
Sacco's job is saved for, yet, at least one more day.