The Avalanche got one center back Wednesday but lost another.
Matt Duchene and Colorado head coach Patrick Roy said following the Avs' morning skate that Duchene was a game-time decision Wednesday night, but he returned to the lineup against St. Louis and skated for the first time since Nov. 16.
That good-news addition was offset, however, by the absence of Paul Stastny, who was scratched before the game with back spasms.
Duchene leads Colorado in goals (12) and points (20), and he skated Wednesday at “about 95 percent,” according to Roy.
Colorado’s initial plan was to hold out Duchene until Friday’s game against Minnesota, but when Stastny’s back started to flare, Duchene decided that he could give it a go and fill a void at the center position.
Stastny, whose status for Friday night’s game in Minneapolis remains in question, ranks second on the Avs in points (17) and is third in goals (8) and assists (9-tied).
“When [Duchene] saw that Paul was not capable of playing he said, ‘I’m going to go,’” Roy said. “Obviously, I would love to see Matt have a full practice before playing tonight, but unfortunately things like this happen, and you have no choice then.
“He did well. He protected the puck well in the [offensive] zone.”
Duchene centered a line with PA Parenteau and Gabriel Landeskog and logged 17 minutes, 42 seconds of ice time. He also had three shots and two hits in his first action in almost two weeks. He said Wednesday morning he was eager to get back on the ice after a lengthy layoff, but the Avs’ result against the Blues was not what he had in mind for his return.
“[The Blues] are a good team, we got a lot to learn before we can beat a team like that consistently,” Duchene said. “They do a lot of really good things, and we can learn from them, but we also can't give them too much respect. They're in our head a little bit, I think, probably, but you know, we got to get rid of that and keep moving on here.”
St. Louis led 2-0 just 6:10 into the game Wednesday, and it’s likely at that point that the Avalanche players started to experience a few flashbacks from their previous meeting this year with the Blues, a 7-3 road loss in St. Louis.
Patrick Bordeleau stepped up for Colorado with a goal a little more than two minutes later, though, and that stopped the bleeding and got the Avs right back in the game at 2-1.
It was his career-high third goal this season.
“Offensively, our best player was Patrick Bordeleau,” Roy said. “He was skating well.”
Center Brad Malone started the sequence with a push up the right wall, and he slapped the puck toward the net and Bordeleau, who wasn’t able to handle it, and the pass deflected out into the slot.
Defenseman Jan Hejda was there to poke the puck away from an unsuspecting Maxim Lapierre, and Hejda’s poke bounced off St. Louis netminder Jaroslav Halak and out to the left side of the crease, where Bordeleau was ready to attack.
- St. Louis’ goal at 18:12 in the first was the first shorthanded goal surrendered by the Avalanche this season. Colorado entered Wednesday as just one of four NHL teams to not yet allow a shorthanded score.
"It cuts your leg for sure," Bordeleau said. "You know you don't want to give up a shorthanded goal in any game, especially this one. We just didn't do the job on the power play."
- At 17-6-0 (34 points), the Avs have the second-most points and most wins through 23 games in franchise history. Colorado’s 2000-01 team and its 1994-95 team were each 16-4-3 at this point in their seasons, accounting for 35 points. This year’s Avs are tied in points with their 1995-96 and 1996-97 counterparts.
- Colorado entered Wednesday’s game having won eight consecutive home games versus the Blues. St. Louis notched its first win in Denver since April 12, 2009.
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