DENVER – Matt Duchene, who is coming off a career-high four-point performance Friday, will remain at left wing Sunday night when the Colorado Avalanche takes on the Calgary Flames at the Pepsi Center.
Avalanche coach Joe Sacco sees no reason to move Duchene back to center following his three-goal, one-assist effort in a wild 7-6 overtime loss in Dallas. Duchene, who had two goals and four assists in the previous 12 games, will stay on the left side with center Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk.
“I thought they had a good night offensively, especially Matty,” Sacco said after this morning’s skate. “So we’ll keep it together and see how it works tonight. Matty was skating the way that he can. Once he started moving his feet, the work ethic was there. It’s certainly a step in the right direction for him.”
Duchene, 20, has made a habit of getting off to slow starts, but he’s taken over the team scoring lead with five goals and as many assists. Ryan O’Reilly, also 20, has two goals and eight assists.
Duchene played with a variety of wings while centering the second line for the first 12 games after starting the season between Peter Mueller and Hejduk. Mueller will miss his 11th consecutive game tonight with a head injury after he sat out all last year to recover from a concussion, but he’s beginning to feel better and skated this morning for the second day in a row.
“I thought I was playing better even before (Friday),” Duchene said. “I think it gives you confidence. I felt I was right on the verge of that for a long time and it was fun to finally have the floodgates open a little bit. It was nice. It’s too bad we lost, but there were some positives to take away offensively for our whole team.”
The six goals Friday matched the total number of goals the Avalanche has scored in five home games, four of them losses, and it doesn’t get any easier tonight.
The Flames have beaten the Avalanche six times in a row while scoring 28 goals, and the most recent meeting was a 4-2 victory in Calgary on Oct. 26.