A top-shelf laser by Matt Duchene and a shut-down third period by the Colorado Avalanche gave them the edge over the Los Angeles Kings, 3-2, on Sunday night. The victory was the first win at home for the Avs and ended a two-game losing streak.
Colorado didn't take advantage of their own power plays earned early in the game, but did take advantage of L.A.'s man-advantage as Chuck Kobasew scored a shorthanded goal off of a wraparound about six minutes in. However, 33 seconds later the Kings shot right back on the same power play, courtesy of a baseball bat-style shot from Scott Parse, tying the game at one.
The Avalanche got more bounces their way though, as Milan Hejduk retrieved an awkward bounce off of the boards that went off of Jonathan Quick and put it in the net. Following the goal, Colorado started to look like the more energized team with the 2-1 lead until they received a late penalty for holding. It was here where the Kings earned a 5-on-3 and after multiple whacks at the puck, Anze Kopitar tied the game up again, this time 2-2.
Duchene's shining moment came about two minutes into the third period. As he skated up into Kings territory with David Jones following a failed Drew Doughty clearing attempt, the Kings defenseman gave Duchene a little room to work. A few steps closer to the net, Duchene shot a top-shelf beauty that Jonathan Quick had no chance of stopping.
After he scored, the Avs shut down L.A. for the rest of the period, forcing turnovers and not allowing the Kings to get deep in the zone.
The eventual game-winner remained humble after the game when discussing the goal, stating he never meant to go top shelf, and credited his teammates for the performance, as well as "a little bit of luck there".
"First I didn’t know if it was offside, Jonesy [David Jones] did a great job to get back onside," said Duchene. "I just tried to keep it simple and just tried to shoot through him [Drew Doughty], and luckily I was able to find a hole through him and kind of use him as a screen. I don’t think Quick saw it."
Duchene was Colorado's scoring leader last season with 67 points and 27 goals. So far this year, he has six points, tied for third on the team, and hs game-winning goal Sunday was only his second lamp-lighter. No worries though, as Duchene remains positive about it. "At this point I think I had 2 goals as well," said Duchene. "I’m right on schedule."
It's only stating the obvious, but the Avs aren't slowing down just yet, and receiving more scoring from guys like Duchene and having players like Jones keep up the offensive contributions would help push them deeper into contention.