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Avs Finally Pull Out Close-Game Victory

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

BOSTON—The Colorado Avalanche has had plenty of close games heading into the third period this season. The club has also had plenty of disappointments in those contests as well.

The Avs were finally able to a grind out a win in a tight game Thursday night as they quickly erased an early two-goal deficit to defeat the Boston Bruins 3-2. Matt Duchene scored the game-winner at 6:49 of the final stanza to help move the Avalanche to 2-0 on its current seven-game trek out east.

"It feels great. We need a big road trip and that's a great start," Duchene said.

However, the night didn't start off well for Colorado.

The team trailed by two goals just six minutes into the game, but the Avalanche eventually settled down, chipped away at the Bruins' lead and tied the contest before the TD Garden siren sounded for the first intermission.

"It was good. It was not easy being down 2-0, but again I thought we played really good for 54 minutes," head coach Patrick Roy said.

"We didn't give up. We kept our focus. Even if we were down 2-0, I didn't have any feeling that we were panicking out there. I thought we were under control. We started playing a little bit better and [got] some shots on net."

Colorado went on to outshoot Boston 30-27 and finished with a 63-55 advantage in shot attempts.

After Ryan Spooner made it a 2-0 game for the B's at 5:51 of the first period, the message on the Avs bench was to test Boston goalie Tuukka Rask with more shots.

"Just simple plays," said Avs forward Carl Soderberg. "[Get] some shots too. I think we only had two shots on net (at that point). Get pucks to the net and get rebounds."

The Avs got on the scoreboard midway through the opening period on Soderberg's second tally of the season, and Francois Beauchemin tied the game after his shot deflected off Joonas Kemppainen with 29 ticks left before the intermission.

Soderberg's tally came after Blake Comeau beat out an icing call, went around the net and threw the puck to the slot for his Swedish teammate. Soderberg had just gotten into position and quickly ripped a wrist shot past the left glove of Rask to give some life to the Avs.

It was a good response by Soderberg as it was his turnover in the Colorado zone that led to Spooner scoring 6:17 earlier.

"It's always nice to come back in a game where we're down two goals," Soderberg said. "It wasn't a special feeling (being down 2-0), but we needed it (the win)."

Entering the contest with a 1-6-1 record in one-goal outings, the Avs ended up pulling out a tight win with the game on the line. Duchene, the team's hottest player, was once against the hero.

Duchene also had an assist on the night and now has nine points (six goals and three assists) in the last six games after notching his seventh goal of the year.

"It's hard to be confident in those times with what we have gone through this year," Duchene said of the squad's poor one-goal game record. "We're fighting through it and showing good character. We just had a great team effort today."

The winning goal was a thing of beauty, not only Duchene's wicked snap shot but also the sequence that led to it. A faceoff win and a good forecheck by Ben Street forced a turnover at the left circle. Street gathered the puck and moved it up the wall to Mikahil Grigorneko, who then made a strong pass over to Duchene in the slot.

Winning a tight game in the third period was liberating for the team.

"Yeah, big time," said Duchene on if it was a sigh of relief that the team pulled out a close-margin victory. "I think we're growing as a group, and we knew if we stuck with it, the stuff we're doing, things will go well. We're doing that, and we're getting results."

Colorado has now won two games in a row for the first time this season and looks to stretch its streak to three on Saturday in Montreal against the best team in the league.

Goaltender Reto Berra finished with 25 saves on Thursday, including stopping the final 20 shots after Spooner scored in the first. He is expected to make his third consecutive start this weekend versus the 13-2-2 Canadiens.


Forward John Mitchell was back in the Avs lineup after missing the past four games with an oblique injury.

Mitchell was considered a game-time decision, and the club had 21 players out for warmup in case he couldn't play. The forward passed the final test and went on to center the team's third line with left wing Cody McLeod and right wing Andreas Martinsen.

He finished the game with six shot attempts in 18:23 of ice time.

"I felt really good out there. The legs felt great," Mitchell said afterward. "I felt like I had some good speed all game long. Just want to make sure that I can sustain that. Had some good skates before I got into game action so I think that helped a little bit."

Mitchell was the only player that skated Thursday morning at TD Garden. The rest of the team went through light workouts and meetings. He had been going through skating drills with the coaches since he suffered the injury in the third period of the Avs' 4-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 1.


Brad Stuart returned to Denver Thursday as the Avs sent the defenseman home to nurse a back injury.

Stuart missed three games earlier this season because of a back ailment (Oct. 24-29) but had played in four of Colorado's last five contests leading up to the matchup with the Bruins.

Nate Guenin took Stuart's spot on the back end, returning to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the last four and five of the last six games. He was paired with Brandon Gormley.

Prior to the game, the team recalled Zach Redmond from the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League so there would be seven active D-men on the roster in case of a last-minute injury. Redmond will meet the team in Montreal on Friday.


- Jarome Iginla tied Peter Stastny for 37th place on the NHL's all-time scoring list (1,239) with an assist on Carl Soderberg's first-period goal

- Erik Johnson picked up his 200th career NHL point on Francois Beauchemin's goal.

- The Avalanche has now won eight straight games in Boston. Colorado's last road loss to the Bruins was March 30, 1998.

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