DENVER – Colorado Avalanche players were breathing a little easier Sunday night after securing their first home win of the season, perhaps none more than Matt Duchene.
The 20-year-old center, dropped to the fourth line for a game a week ago, scored the game-winning goal -- his first goal of any kind in seven games played -- in the Avalanche's 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings at the Pepsi Center.
"It's going to be good for Matt to get that one out of the way," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "Players feed off confidence, and that will help his confidence a little bit. More importantly, it was part of a two-point night for the team."
The Avalanche was outscored 9-2 in dropping its first three home games and had lost three of the previous four games overall.
"I mean, it feels good," said Duchene, who skated into the left circle and fired the puck between defenseman Drew Doughty's legs and past goalie Jonathan Quick at 1:52 of the third period to break a 2-2 tie. "Obviously you want to keep (the goals) coming. It's a huge win."
David Jones, who replaced Chuck Kobasew on Duchene's line, collected his second assist of the game on the play. He managed to stay onside after feeding Duchene, who skated into the Kings end under a head of steam.
"I saw a little bit of daylight through Doughty's legs and just fired it and tried to get it by him and it found the net," Duchene said of his only shot of the night. "There might have been a bit of luck there. My game is speed. It's north-south through the neutral zone and making plays in the ‘O' zone. I was able to get some speed, come up the ice there and I kind of caught them off their tracks. I just tried to use him as a screen.
"I watched the replay and I kind of could have walked into the middle and almost had a breakaway. I'm glad I shot it; I might not have scored if I'd done the other."
Quick, who posted a 6-0-2 record in his first eight starts, credited Duchene for making a "really good" shot.
"He came down with a lot of speed," Quick said. "He put it in a great spot. I don't think me or the defenseman could have played it any differently."
The Avalanche was outshot 32-16 for the game but limited the Kings to six shots against goalie Semyon Varlamov after the Duchene goal. The Kings went on a six-on-four power play for the final 45.2 seconds of the third period after Daniel Winnik tripped Mike Richards but were still held to only one shot with Quick on the bench for the extra skater.
"That's the fun part of being on the ice at the end," said defenseman Kyle Quincey, who helped kill off the penalty in addition to contributing two assists. "It's fun being out there. It's do or die. We had plays off the draw and we did it to a T and that was the game."
The Kings tied the game 2-2 on Anze Kopitar's goal during a two-man advantage at 18:44 of the second period. Kopitar pounded a rebound behind Varlamov after a close-in shot by Dustin Brown.
The Avalanche's Kobasew and Kings' Scott Parse traded goals 27 seconds apart in the first period during the same Los Angeles power play.
Kobasew scored while short-handed at 6:55. Rookie Gabriel Landeskog fed Kobasew, who skated behind the Kings net, came out on the left side and slipped the puck between the near post and Quick.
"I feel like I haven't been contributing the way that I wanted," said Kobasew, who had one goal in the first 10 games. "It was nice to help that way."
Parse tied the game at 7:22 after Jarret Stoll fired a shot off the goal post. The puck bounced in the air and Parse batted it past Varlamov for a power-play goal.
The Avalanche took a 2-1 lead at 9:04 of the second period on Milan Hejduk's power-play goal. The Avalanche caught a break on the play when David Jones fired the puck off the boards. The puck bounced in front, and Hejduk poked it into an open net.
"It just took an unexpected bounce and hit something and jumped out," Quick said. "It was coming along the wall and I was going to stop it and leave it (for a teammate). It just took a weird hop off the wall. There is nothing you can do about it. It just took a bad bounce."
It was the kind of break the Avalanche felt it hadn't been getting in the three previous home games. The Avalanche launched 102 shots in those games and watched 100 of them get stopped.
"I think the guys maybe had been squeezing it a little bit," Sacco said. "It's a hard game to get wins in, whether you're at home or on the road."