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Seven Games Remain; Avs In The Mix

by Kyle Shohara / Colorado Avalanche
As the dust settles after a night in which five of six teams battling for three playoff spots earned points, the Avs find themselves sitting in seventh place on this Wednesday afternoon.

In the end, the Avs took care of business.  In what was arguably the biggest game of the season to date, Colorado did what they couldn't do in nine previous matchups with their rivals north of the border; earn two points. That's right. The Flames had won nine consecutive games against the Avalanche, and Calgary netminder Miikka Kiprusoff was unbeaten in his last 11 starts against Colorado.

But that all changed last night when the Avs showed the perseverance and determination needed to beat a team on the outside looking in; a team just as hungry as the Avs.

Down 1-0 early in the first, Paul Stastny parked in front of Kiprusoff and managed to get his stick on Shane O'Brien's point shot.  1-1.  Semyon Varlamov denied two glorious chances by Jarome Iginla, a player who's lit the lamp 515 times in his illustrious career.  The Avs caught a few breaks when pucks chimed off posts, but sometimes you need a little luck on your side.

Colorado's penalty-killing unit came up big once again, killing all three of the team's penalties, including a two-minute minor with under 10 minutes remaining in regulation.  Overall, the Avs' PK unit has killed off 23-of-24 short-handed situations (95.8%). On the flip side, the Avs went another game without a power play (the sixth time the team has gone without a power play this season, tops in the NHL). And keep this in mind: The Avs went just ONE game in the previous 10 years without a power play. 

Nevertheless, the Avs took the game into overtime and David Jones, the one who the boys in the locker room call "Jonesy," chipped in the game-winning-goal past Kiprusoff, giving the Avs the crucial extra point.

Here are the standings as of Wednesday, March 21.

For all of you holding your breath, you might want to hold on a little longer.  Although the Avs currently sit in seventh, they've still played at least one more game than the teams they're competing with.  However, if the Avs continue to do work, continue to do what they've done over their last nine games (7-1-1), a playoff berth grows larger with every win.

The intensity picks right back up tomorrow when the Avs take on a Coyotes squad currently sitting in ninth place because of a shootout loss to Pacific Division rival Dallas last night. Once again, a regulation win would do wonders for the Avs, especially against a team that's fighting for the same ground.

For those who didn't get to see Jonesy's OT winner, or for those who just feel like seeing it again, here it is:

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