Coming off of its worst season in Franchise history, the Avalanche is savoring a sweet Saturday night victory in Denver thanks to contributions from homegrown talent in a 3-1 victory over conference-rival Detroit.
Sophomores T.J. Gailardi and Chris Stewart each tallied a goal to give Colorado the edge over Detroit in the second meeting between the rival clubs this season on Saturday Oct. 24. Center Paul Stastny tacked on an empty-net goal with one minute left in the third period to assure the victory.
The win would not have been possible without the 47 saves that Craig Anderson provided between the pipes, but the obvious difference between this season’s Avalanche squad and the pitiful one of last season is the fresh young talent on the ice.
The team has committed to a youth movement and the commitment is paying off. Gailardi (selected by Colorado in the second round of the 2007 draft) netted the game-tying tally with a sick back-hand shot from inside the slot at the 14:26 mark of the second period. It was his first goal of the season, and it was a pretty one at that.
Stewart (selected by Colorado in the first round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft) sported a sly smirk after netting his goal, the game-winner, at the 9:20 mark of the third period. Stewart rushed into Detroit’s zone and launched a wrist shot that almost looked like a lob that he hoped to follow up on, but much to his chagrin – it evaded Detroit’s Jimmy Howard and landed in the upper shelf of the net on the first attempt. The two goals provided by the youngsters, plus Stastny’s empty-netter, was enough to hold off the Red Wings for the win.
Nine of the players on Colorado’s roster in Sunday’s game were drafted by Colorado in recent years – which goes to show how the organization is building the team – and it seems to be working. The Avalanche is 8-1-2 this season and lead the Western Conference with 18 points. They are second only to Pittsburgh in the overall standings.