Matt Duchene broke the Avalanche’s power-play drought early Tuesday night against Dallas with a right-side snipe two minutes and 37 seconds into the game.
Duchene then assisted on Erik Johnson’s goal midway through the second period, which put the Avs ahead 2-1 and gave Duchene seven points in his past four games.
After Duchene scored 20 points in the Avalanche’s first 18 games this season he suffered an oblique injury and dealt with a flu battle, which zapped his momentum. In Colorado’s ensuing 11 games he scored just one point, on an assist, and missed three contests.
It’s now pretty safe to say Duchene has returned to the form that he had early on.
But it didn’t result in a victory against the Stars.
Rookie Colton Sceviour scored his second-career goal in his third NHL game for Dallas, when, with the scored tied 2-2, he went five-hole through Avalanche goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere on a breakaway with 2:52 left in the third period.
A nice pass from Dallas’ Rich Peverley put Sceviour in position, and the 15-second sequence spoiled Duchene’s effort.
He scored his team-leading 15th goal of the season early in the game when he threw in a rebound from the right side after Johnson—who also finished with two points for his fourth career game with a goal and an assist—blasted a shot from the blue line that bounced off Dallas goaltender Dan Ellis.
The score came on the Avs’ first power-play opportunity of the game, after the Stars’ Ryan Garbutt was called for a double minor for high sticking against Andre Benoit.
Colorado had been in the midst of a much-discussed 0-for-31 power-play goals drought.
“We felt it coming last game,” Duchene said. “I think we moved it around really well last game and had a ton of shots—I think we had 14 shots on the power play last game—so it was nice to finally get one. Sometimes you just need a good bounce like that, and you don’t seem to get too many like that, so it was real nice to have a little gift at the side of the net there.”
Duchene then created some space in a four-on-four situation midway through the second period when he shook Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski with a spin move near the left wing wall and then skated freely into the face-off circle before finding Johnson across the slot.
Duchene’s spin and subsequent breakout drew in the Dallas defense, leaving Johnson all alone on the right side. He unleashed a snap shot from about 30 feet that whipped past Ellis’ right arm and clanked off the left post and into the net.
The goal was Johnson’s second in as many games and gave him four on the season, matching his Avalanche high set during the 2011-12 season.
“It was perfect—nice play on the wall there [by Duchene],” Johnson said. “[It was] four on four, so a little bit more open ice. I wasn’t sure if he saw me, but he saw me at the last second, and then over the pad, far side is a good spot to put it. It’s tough for the goalie. Nice play by ‘Dutchy,’ there.”
It wasn’t enough, though, to overcome Colorado’s defensive lapse late in the third period that allowed Sceviour to get open ice. The Avalanche lost for the first time this season against Dallas.
“It’s too bad, because we played a good game,” Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy said. “We had great momentum out there, we had our chances. Their goalie made some great saves. Overall, I thought it was a great performance by our team. Nothing to show for it … just the details at the end cost us at least a point.”
Tuesday’s game was the fourth of five this season between Dallas and Colorado, with the finale scheduled for Jan. 27 at American Airlines Center.
Colorado fell to 3-1-0 against Dallas this season and 1-1-0 on the road. All-time the Avs are 54-44-19 against the Stars, including totals from both teams’ franchise histories in Quebec and Minnesota.
The Avs are 31-25-15 against Dallas since the franchise relocated to Denver in 1995.
- Last night and tonight’s game was the fourth of 10 back-to-backs on Colorado’s schedule this season. The Avs are 6-2 overall in their back-to-backs, including matching 3-1 marks in the first and second game.
The Avalanche will play a total of 10 back-to-backs in 2013-14 after participating in nine during the shortened season a year ago.
Roy said Monday morning that Wilson (back) is close to returning to the lineup. He didn’t travel to Dallas and instead stayed behind to work on his conditioning as he readies for his imminent return.
- Forward Alex Tanguay (knee/hip) remains on injured reserve and is out indefinitely.
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