The Colorado Avalanche didn't always get the calls, but it found a way to pull out a win.
After Monday's grinding 3-2 overtime win over the Winnipeg Jets, the Avs players know that the final 17 games of the regular season will be anything but easy.
"We are not going to get anything for free out there," Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "We have to work for it, and we got to outwork them. … We found a way to win, and we got the two points at the end of the day. Certainly ugly, but certainly feels just as good."
The Jets played a tough, physical brand of hockey at Pepsi Center while also playing stingy defense. They didn't allow the Avs much time in their offensive zone, had active sticks, and were pressuring hard when Colorado had the puck back in its own end.
Colorado didn't back down from Winnipeg's physicality, as the Jets only out-hit them 26 to 24, but it was smart as well. The Jets took four penalties in the first period and eight overall in the game, while the Avs were called for three infractions (two of which were matching) and a penalty shot that Winnipeg missed.
Playing smart hockey was something Avs coach Patrick Roy stressed with his team.
"That's what I said to the guys, 'We cannot end up in the penalty box.' There is no doubt about it," Roy said. "We could not have retaliation penalties as well. That's the way we have been all year. We have been very disciplined, and we want to keep it that way."
It could have been easy for the Avalanche to retaliate or take an ill-advised penalty because of fatigue, as many of the forwards were playing season-high minutes with a shortened bench.
Colorado began the game with a lineup of 11 forwards and seven defenseman because Paul Stastny was out with a back injury. That lineup soon got smaller as the team lost PA Parenteau early in the first period and had to play with 10 forwards for the remainder of the game.
"'Don't try and feel sorry for yourself.' That is what I said to the guys, 'Keep going and we'll win the game,'" Roy said. "We have to remain positive, that's for sure, but at the same time, all year we have battled through adversity, and tonight was another example."
Playing near-career high minutes, Matt Duchene (24:36) and Ryan O'Reilly (25:02) helped get the Avs the win in overtime. O'Reilly won the faceoff in the neutral zone and Duchene eventually got the puck while speeding up the left wing boards. He attacked the front of the net, and despite being knocked off the puck, stayed with it and was able to knock in the game-winning goal.
“I got in the corner and just was able to beat [Dustin] Byfuglien out of the corner, and he kind of grabbed my elbow and I lost the puck and I don’t think [Al] Montoya was really ready for it," Duchene said. "It came back to me, and I kind of just whacked at it, and I didn’t really know it went in. I just heard the crowd cheer. It was a nice bounce and nice game-winning goal.”
That never give-in attitude Duchene and his linemates O'Reilly, Nick Holden and Tyson Barrie had on that final shift was what Roy was proud of after the game. And he wasn't just proud of those four players' hard work, but of everyone who wore the burgundy and blue sweaters.
"Our guys never stopped working," Roy said. "Most of the night we played three lines; everyone chipping in, everyone playing hard. It was a great team effort."
PARENTEAU OUT FOR THE SEASON?
Roy said he thinks Parenteau may miss 4-6 weeks with the injury and isn't sure if he'll be able to play in the playoffs, if the team gets that far. He said the team would know more on Tuesday about the extent of Parenteau's injury.
With Stastny also injured, Colorado will call up forwards Brad Malone and Paul Carey from the Lake Erie Monsters. Malone has played in 15 games in two NHL stints with the Avs this season, while this will be Carey's first career NHL assignment.
STASTNY LISTED DAY-TO-DAY
Avalanche center Paul Stastny missed Monday's game with a back injury he suffered on his first shift on Saturday against the St. Louis Blues.
Roy said Stastny is listed as day-to-day and that he would have more information on the severity of the injury after a doctor's visit on Monday. Roy is optimistic Stastny will be back in the lineup for Wednesday's game against Chicago.
Stastny has had a resurgence season and is in the top five on the team in scoring with 20 goals and 27 assists. He is three points away from being the fifth Avs player to hit 50 points this season, which would mark the first time that the team has had five players with at least 50 points since 2006-07.
MORE POSTGAME NOTES
• Matt Duchene scored his fourth career overtime goal.
• Duchene’s OT winner extended his career-best point streak to eight games (four goals, eight assists).
• The Avalanche improved to 8-2 in overtime (.800%)…Only Anaheim (5-1, .833%) has a higher winning percentage in OT games this year (not including shootouts).
• Semyon Varlamov stopped Jim Slater’s penalty-shot attempt in the first period…Varlamov has now stopped 4 of 5 career penalty shots against (.800%).
• Slater’s attempt was the first penalty shot against the Avalanche since March 6, 2012, when Minnesota’s Devin Setoguchi scored against Varlamov at Pepsi Center.
• Dustin Byfuglien tied his season high with two goals, his second multi-goal game of the year (also Nov. 15 vs. Philadelphia).
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