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A Welcome Addition

Steve Downie Has Seven Points In His Last Three Games; Avs Riding Four-Game Win Streak

Tuesday, 02.28.2012 / 1:24 AM / News
By Ron Knabenbauer
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A Welcome Addition
 
When the Colorado Avalanche acquired Steve Downie, they were hoping that he would make an immediate impact. However, it would be tough to say that the club expected the impact the winger is having in his first four games with the team.
 
Downie picked up two assists, including one on Ryan O’Reilly’s game-winner in the third period, to help lift the Avalanche to a 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday at Pepsi Center.
 
Downie now has seven points (two goals and five assists) in his last three games. The Newmarket, Ontario native has been playing on a line that features O’Reilly at center and Gabriel Landeskog at left wing.
 
“It took us a while to get some chemistry going,” Downie said of his line. “We’re learning pretty quick since we haven’t had a practice yet, but there is a lot more to come from us. We haven’t reached our potential yet, but we are definitely in the right direction.”
 
It seems like it hasn’t taken that long for the Avs’ top forward line to find chemistry with his linemates as they combined for 20 points (six goals and 14 assists) in the four games since being put together prior to the Los Angeles contest on Feb. 22.
 
Downie is a plus-7 since putting on an Avs sweater and the team sports a 4-0 record with him in the lineup.
 
“He brings a lot of energy and character to this team, and to this line,” Landeskog said of his winger. “It has been fun playing with him.”
 
He has had to deal with his fair share of adjustments since being acquired on Feb. 21 from Tampa Bay; the weather, the time change and 5,280 feet of elevation.
 
“He tells us that he is struggling with the altitude, but you can’t tell it at all,” Landeskog said. “He is flying out there, making plays, finishing his checks.
 
Downie’s first assist against the Ducks came in the game’s opening score. From the right wing, Downie threw the puck towards the net, but it deflected off Anaheim’s Rod Pelley and onto the stick of Cody McLeod, who easily backhanded it into the net.
 
His second assist also came from a bounce in front, but off Landeskog’s skate. Downie was looking for Landeskog in front of the net, but the puck missed Landy’s stick and ricocheted off his skate to O’Reilly, who buried it short side. The goal came just 37 seconds into the third and ignited a three-goal stanza for the Avs.
 
The win is Colorado’s fourth in a row, and moves them into ninth place in the Western Conference. The Avs and the eighth place Dallas Stars both have 70 points, but Dallas wins the tiebreaker since they have played one less game.
 
Also, the victory puts a little distance between the Avs and the Ducks. Anaheim came into Monday’s game just four points behind Colorado with a 17-4-4 record since Jan. 1st.
 
The Avalanche will play the second of a three-game homestand on Thursday at 7 p.m. versus the Columbus Blue Jackets.
 
Duchene Finds His Scoring Touch
 
It was a sense of relief for Matt Duchene when he scored his 13th goal of the season and extended Colorado’s lead to 3-1 early in the third period.
 
“It felt darn good,” Duchene said. “I could have had it a couple of times in the game and I knew that it would eventually come.”
 
Duchene was playing in his fifth game since returning from a knee injury that kept him out of the lineup for 20 games and had yet to score a goal.
 
His first goal back could not have been any prettier.
 
With a two-on-one break, Stastny chipped the puck to Duchene – over a sliding Cam Fowler –
who wristed it top shelf from the left side.
 
“What a heck of a pass to me, right on the tee,” Duchene said. “It is nice to get that as my first one. As soon as I whacked it, I knew it was in.”
 
#LandyForCalder
 
Every game, Gabriel Landeskog is making more of a case for the Calder Trophy, the NHL’s rookie of the year.
 
Landeskog extended his career-high point streak to six games with two assists on Monday against the Ducks.
 
Landy’s six-game run is the longest streak by an Avalanche player this season and is tied for the second-longest streak by an NHL rookie in 2011-12. New Jersey rookie Adam Henrique had a point in seven straight games from Nov. 25 – Dec. 8.
 
He has 18 goals and 20 assists for 40 points this season and is just one point behind Henrique (41 points) for the rookie scoring lead.
 
Landeskog is now the only Avalanche player to appear in all 64 games so far this season.
 
Avalanche Acquires McGinn, Connolly and Sgarbossa
 
The 2012 NHL Trade Deadline has now passed and the Colorado Avalanche was one of the clubs that made a deal before the 3 p.m. Eastern Time deadline.
 
While the Avs were not the busiest team on deadline day, they did acquire a physical two-way forward that they wanted in Jamie McGinn.
 
McGinn, 23, comes over from San Jose where he had 12 goals and 12 assists in 61 games with the Sharks. He also leads San Jose with 137 hits.
 
“We are getting an NHL caliber player with good character and he has NHL experience (202 games played in the league,” said Colorado General Manager and Executive Vice President Greg Sherman of the 6-foot-1, 210-pound McGinn. “He plays 200 feet of the ice and we feel that we have improved our hockey club.”
 
McGinn was not in the lineup on Monday against Anaheim, but he is expected to be on the bench on Thursday when Colorado hosts the Columbus Blue Jackets.
 
The Avalanche also received prospects Mike Connolly and Michael Sgarbossa from the Sharks.
 
Connolly, 22, is in his first professional season after spending the last three years with the University of Minnesota-Duluth (WCHA). He is tied for second on the Worchester Sharks (San Jose’s AHL affiliate) with 30 points (10 goals and 20 assists). Connolly will head to Cleveland where he will play for the Lake Erie Monsters (Avs’ AHL affiliate) for the remainder of the season.
 
Sgarbossa, 19, is currently with the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League. In 57 games this season, he has 41 goals and 43 assists for 84 points. Sgarbossa will remain with Sudbury for the rest of the season.
 
“Adding those two prospects gives us depth to our organization,” Sherman said of Connolly and Sgarbossa.
 
For McGinn, Connolly and Sgarbossa, Colorado traded forwards T.J. Galiardi, Daniel Winnik and a seventh-round selection in the 2013 Entry Draft (previously held by Anaheim) to San Jose.
 
“Every time you do a trade, there is a price to pay,” Sherman said. “We felt strongly about getting a player like Jamie McGinn, along with two young prospects.”
 
The acquisition of McGinn is the team’s second exchange before the trade deadline. They acquired Steve Downie from Tampa Bay on Feb. 21.
 
More Game Notes
    •    The Avs won their fourth straight game, during which they’ve outscored the opposition 17-5.
    •    Colorado has scored four or more goals in each of these four wins, the first time the club has scored 4+ goals in four consecutive games since Oct. 14-23, 2008 (five in a row).
    •    Colorado is 5-1-0 in its last six games and 7-2-1 in its last 10.
    •    The Avs have also won four straight on home ice.
    •    Semyon Varlamov won his third consecutive start…He has allowed just two goals total in these three victories, stopping 87-of-89 shots (.978 Sv%)…Varly has yielded one goal or less in five of his last six appearances.
    •    Varlamov went 113 minutes, 55 seconds without allowing a goal before Bobby Ryan’s tally at 18:30 of the second period tonight…That 113:55 shutout streak was a career best for Varlamov, topping his previous high of 102:57 set earlier this year from Jan. 2-10, 2012.
    •    Tonight was Gabriel Landeskog’s third consecutive multi-point game (3g/3a).
    •    Ryan O’Reilly extended his point streak to four games (1g/5a)…He has nine points (1g/8a) and is a combined  +10 over his last six games.
    •    O’Reilly’s goal tonight was his third game winner of the season, tying David Jones and Gabriel Landeskog for the team lead.
    •    Ryan Wilson was +3 for the second consecutive game.
    •    Jonas Hiller made his 22nd consecutive start tonight, one shy of the Ducks record held by Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Guy Hebert.
 
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