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Avs Defense Continues To Pitch In On Offense

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche defense continued its strong play of generating offensive opportunities and goals on Saturday in Los Angeles.

While the end result against Kings was a 3-2 shootout loss, the Colorado defense scored for the fourth straight game and had its hands in both goals. Erik Johnson scored the Avs' first goal and Tyson Barrie had an assist on the second to tie the game in the third period.

Defensemen have scored six of the Avalanche's last 12 goals and now have 11 points (six goals, five assists) in the past four games.

Johnson said one of the reasons why the defense has gotten on the scoresheet more this season is that all five players on the ice are doing their jobs.

"I think it's a team mentality for the most part," Johnson said. "When the D are getting the puck, the forwards are doing their job down low, finding seams. For us (defensemen), the most important thing is getting our shots through. Definitely in years past we haven't been as good as that. A lot of it is due to hard work in practice. The forwards work so hard down low to get us the puck and we have to reward them by getting our shots through. It's been a big part of our offense this year, the back end contributing."

Johnson's goal came on the power play at 14:02 of the second period and cut the Avs' deficit on the scoreboard to one.

Slipping behind the Kings forwards, Johnson placed himself at the left circle and waited several seconds there before Matt Duchene spun past an LA defender at the right corner and fed the D-man the puck. With plenty of space around him, Johnson fired a wrist shot below Martin Jones' blocker for his fifth goal of the season.

"My job is to get open for the one-timer on the backside and offer some support as an outlet," Johnson said. "I just got a great pass on the backside from Duchene and just put it over the pad, under the blocker, and it went in for me, and it was great for the team to go into the third down one."

Johnson now has three goals and four points in the past four games (three goals, one assist).

Colorado tied the game 2-2 at 10:27 of the third period when Ryan O'Reilly stickhandled a few times in front of Jones and lifted the puck into the top part of the net.

The play began after the Avalanche won a faceoff and the puck found its way to Barrie at the point. Barrie fed it down the right wing wall to Duchene, who cycled the puck to O'Reilly before getting it back and finding O'Reilly again all alone in front for the goal.

Barrie's assist extended his point streak to four games (two goals, two assists), which is the longest of his career. His previous long of three games was set Feb. 14-18, 2013.

The Avalanche defense now has 15 goals and 64 points through 35 games this season. The Colorado D only had five goals and 54 points in last season's shortened 48-game campaign.


Paul Stastny appeared in his 500th career game on Saturday afternoon. He became the 17th player in franchise history and the seventh in Avalanche history (since 1995-96) to reach the 500 games-played mark.


Stastny is the fourth player from the 2005 draft class to reach 500 games, joining Anze Kopitar, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Sidney Crosby.

Jamie McGinn and Ryan O'Reilly also played in milestone games on Saturday afternoon with each playing in their 300th NHL contest.

Two other Avs are close to games-played milestones as Jan Hejda needs one game to reach 500, and Matt Duchene needs two games to hit 300 NHL games.


- Matt Duchene had two assists for his fourth straight multi-point game (two goals, seven assists), setting a new career-best. Duchene had the primary assists on both of Colorado's goals and now has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in his last six games.

- Semyon Varlamov is unbeaten in his last five starts at 3-0-2. He entered Saturday's game with a 1.92 goals-against average and .937 save percentage (250 min, 127 shots, 8 goals).

- The Avs scored two power play goals in a game for the third time this season, and the first since scoring twice on five man-advantage chances Nov. 21 at Phoenix, a 4-3 overtime win.

- The Avalanche played its first of six afternoon contests this season, and the first of two on the road. Colorado's next matinee will come at home on Jan. 4 against San Jose.

- Colorado and Los Angeles played in an overtime game for the second time this season. The Avs won the first meeting, 1-0 on Nov. 23, after Jamie McGinn scored in the extra session. Colorado has picked up three of a possible four points against the Kings

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