Colorado Avalanche goaltender Calvin Pickard is from the frozen tundra of Winnipeg, but he looked right at home on a warm and humid night in California.
Pickard made 34 saves, including 22 in the first period, but left Honda Center without the win despite an overall tremendous performance on Thursday night. The Anaheim Ducks came back with two third period goals and defeated the Avalanche 2-1 in a contest that was delayed nearly 45 minutes by a broken piece of glass.
Southern California was a little more humid than usual due to rain in the area, which might have resulted in some tougher ice conditions at the end of the contest. If the humidity wasn't a factor for the playing surface, then the 29:48 "third" period might have been a reason why the puck was jumping a little more late in the contest and there wasn't much flow to either squad's game.
The teams were forced to take an early second intermission after the arena staff had trouble replacing a cracked piece of glass.
"The delay is what it is. It is out of our control," said head coach Jared Bednar. "I didn't think we slowed down that much after the delay. I thought we had a good third period.
At first, the Avalanche bounced back strong from the extended break with Gabriel Landeskog notching a power-play tally with 6:56 left in the middle period. But the Ducks responded with a man-advantage marker of their own 7:18 into the final frame before taking advantage of a giveaway in Colorado's zone with 2:02 left.
"It feels like we're in control of the game, and they score one on the power play and then tough bounce on the second one," Landeskog said.
The Avs wouldn't have been in the contest in the third period if it weren't for Pickard's heroics in the opening frame to keep the score at zeros. The netminder's 22 saves in the stanza were his most in a period this season, and he had to do it while his club was under siege on three Anaheim power plays.
"The first period, we obviously take three penalties and they have a pretty good power play over there," Landeskog said. "They have a lot of zone time, not necessarily a lot of shots, and the shots that they do get, Picks made some big stops. Obviously, the shots were a little lopsided in the first period, but coming out even after the first, I think that was a big period for us."
Seven of the Ducks' shots in the frame came while with an extra man on the ice.
"Pick was big for us there, and we owe him one," said defenseman Cody Goloubef of his keeper's performance to begin the night.
Pickard went on to deny the first 30 pucks to come his way in the outing before Hampus Lindholm's point shot got through traffic in front and landed in the top of the cage on Anaheim's sixth (and final) power play of the night.
Nick Ritchie then put Anaheim ahead with a shot from the slot that Pickard had little chance of saving.
"I feel bad for our guys because that puck comes into our zone, and we're doing the right thing and it kind of explodes on [Nikita] Zadorov," Bednar said. "It just goes to the wrong area of the ice, and he makes a great shot. Really, both of their goals were good shots."
Pickard was playing his first game since making 35 saves in the Avs' 2-1 overtime win against the New York Islanders on Jan. 6. He had backed up Semyon Varlamov for the past three contests but will see more playing time in the coming days after Varlamov aggravated a groin injury on Tuesday against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Varlamov is out through next weekend's All-Star break, and there is no timetable on when he might return to action.
Avalanche defenseman Eric Gelinas has a heavy slap shot.
Colorado, Anaheim and those in attendance at Honda Center witnessed that Thursday night as his blast from the slot went wide and cracked the glass behind the net.
What then ensued was a lot head shaking and laughs from people wondering what the heck is going on out on the ice.
The Honda Center didn't have the correct size glass to replace the broken sheet and had to cut a new piece to fit on the end wall. After more than a 20-minute delay, the ice crew brought out the replacement sheet, but it didn't fit and boos serenaded from the stands of the arena.
Both teams then headed to the locker room for an early second intermission, while the Honda Center staff recut the substitute panel. The second attempt was a perfect fit.
"I'll take the blame," said Gelinas with a laugh. "Guys are giving me a hard time. I think I'm going to hear about it for awhile."
Because of the delay, it took more than 45 minutes before play officially resumed in the second period. With 9:48 left in the middle period, the Avs and Ducks played nearly a 30-minute "third" period when they returned to the ice following the stoppage. The teams played the final 9:48 of the second before beginning the third frame.
In between the last two periods, the two Zambonis did do a dry scrape of the ice (no water), which took about six minutes.
The total time of the contest was three hours and one minute.
BARRIE OUT WITH INJURY
Colorado defenseman Tyson Barrie missed his first game of the season Thursday night as he was out with a lower-body injury. He is listed as day to day.
"We'll see what he feels like tomorrow," Bednar said after the game. "He was a little sore today. It was something that just popped up the other day after the game and didn't get any better over the night. So we'll have to reevaluate him again tomorrow and see if he is good to go for San Jose."
Barrie had played in each of the first 42 contests of the year. He leads all team defensemen and is third overall in scoring with 23 points (three goals and 20 assists).
Taking Barrie's place in the lineup was Patrick Wiercioch, who returned to action after being scratched for the last two contests.
Also, forward Rene Bourque left the game against the Ducks late in the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return.
NIETO RETURNS HOME
Playing games back home in Southern California is nothing new for Matt Nieto. The Long Beach native had played in front of family and friends at Honda Center in Anaheim plenty of times in his three-plus seasons as a member of the San Jose Sharks.
However, Thursday's outing versus the Ducks was his first as an Avalanche player after being picked up on waivers from the Sharks on Jan. 5.
"It's always cool coming back to the hometown," Nieto said before the contest. "I grew up watching [the Ducks] play so it's always fun to play in this building."
Nieto played his fifth straight game with Colorado and has taken on a top-six role with the club during the past four outings. He was a healthy scratch in his last eight and 15 of his final 18 contests with San Jose
The left wing's next game on Saturday will be a big one for him, as he'll play against the Sharks for the first time as an opponent.