Matt Duchene yelled 24 games worth of yells. Then he pumped his arms. Then he slammed the Nassau Coliseum end boards with his right fist, kind of like you’ve seen robbers do in movies when they crack the glass on a break-in.
Then he went in search of the puck.
After so many of his shots over the past six weeks went just a whisker wide or ended with incredible saves—“He just missed it!” “Are you kidding me?” “What’s a guy gotta do?”—Duchene finally broke the century mark Saturday night on Long Island.
His 100th career goal turned the Avalanche’s 1-0 lead into a 2-0 bulge at 7:49 of the second period after he flew by Islanders defensemen Thomas Hickey and Brock Nelson and slipped in his own rebound on a shot against New York goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.
Duchene’s initial try from the right side caught Nabokov’s pads, but he stuck his stick back in there before skating past the goal, and the puck trickled across for Duchene’s first goal since Jan. 18 at Nashville. He memorably celebrated that score last month by “ripping” a monkey off his back.
Little did he know, a full-on ape was still resting between his shoulders.
After he celebrated Saturday, took a breath and got some helmet taps from his teammates, he commenced somewhat of a post-goal reconnaissance mission to retrieve the milestone puck.
Duchene is just the 20th player in Avalanche/Nordiques history and just the ninth in Avalanche history (since 1995) to score 100 goals in a career. He’s also just the second player from the 2009 NHL Entry Draft to do it, joining, fittingly, the Islanders’ John Tavares, who was selected first overall.
Duchene, with the pressure valve finally released, then scored career goal No. 101 at 10:33 of the second period on an incredible snipe shot from the right side that zipped past Nabokov so fast that the Isles’ goalie seemed to think the puck was in his glove.
On the play, Duchene took a pass from Tyson Barrie in the right circle, retreated just a bit and loaded up. When he let the shot fly, the puck banged into the top-left corner of the net and had rebounded out in front of Nabokov before he even knew what happened.
The score gave him four multi-goal games this season and 18 for his career.
- Rookie Nathan MacKinnon opened the scoring at 13:04 in the first period with his team-leading 22nd goal of the season. Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog brought the puck behind the Islanders net and then got knocked into Nabokov from the right side, leaving an open net for Colorado’s first-year sensation.
MacKinnon quickly slapped it into the twine to extend his career-high eight-game point streak, tied with Tampa Bay's Ondrej Palat (Dec. 23 to Jan. 9) for the longest streak by an NHL rookie this season.
The score was MacKinnon’s 12th since Jan. 1, leaving him just one shy of San Jose’s Joe Pavelski for the most by any NHL player since New Year’s.
- Landeskog’s assist on MacKinnon’s goal and empty-net goal late in the third period moved his points streak to a career-high nine games (four goals, eight assists). He also had an eight-game point streak from Dec. 23 to Jan. 8 and is the first Avalanche player to have two point streaks of at least eight games in the same season since Andrew Brunette had point streaks of 11 and eight games during the 2006-07 season.
Landeskog has been held scoreless just four times in his past 23 games, scoring 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists).
- PA Parenteau assisted on Duchene’s first score, giving him 200 for his career. It was fitting the milestone came back in the same arena where he got his first real shot.
- Tyson Barrie finished with a career-high three points, assisting on both of Duchene’s goals and also getting credit for helping on Paul Stastny’s awarded empty-net goal at 19:58 in the third when New York’s Thomas Vanek threw his stick in the way of the empty net.
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