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Short-Handed Goals Spark Avs Comeback

Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog tallied on the PK in Colorado's win over Chicago

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

To score a short-handed goal, it takes the right combination of luck and hard work.

The Colorado Avalanche had that correct mixture twice on Tuesday night and it help catapult the club to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory in overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks at Pepsi Center.

"It was a big win for us," said Avs head coach Jared Bednar. "Get two short-handed goals, scratch and claw our way back into that and then get some timely goals from some guys. It was a good all-around team effort."

Colorado started the contest strong, outshooting Chicago 16-3 in the opening frame and maintained that intensity for most of regulation. The only lull came early in the second period, and the Blackhawks took full advantage with three goals to break open what was a scoreless contest.

The Avalanche recollected itself, started to chip away at the lead and got its first break with Matt Duchene's short-handed marker at 12:16 off a 2-on-1 rush with Matt Nieto.

Video: CHI@COL: Duchene buries Nieto's feed for SHG

"You need a little luck to score a PK goal," Duchene said. "The first one, their guy, we kind of got on them quick, so he kind threw it away. They tried to keep it in and it went right to [Nieto], and now we're off to the races.

"I just tried to shoot as hard as I could, get it off quick and hit that side of the net. Fortunately, it went it. It didn't the other night, so it's nice it went in tonight."

Duchene's 18th of the year cut the deficit to 3-1, but the game-changer according to the players was Gabriel Landeskog's fifth career shorty 4:15 later.

"It's been tough to score. We'll take them any way we can get them," said defenseman Erik Johnson, who capped off the comeback with a coast-to-coast goal in overtime. "Two shorties are nice, no matter when it is in the game. Obviously, a huge momentum swing, especially Gabe's with the way he picked off that breakout pass and was able to get a nice wraparound goal."

Landeskog took advantage of a Chicago drop pass gone wrong and got a shot off from the left circle. He then grabbed his own rebound, went around the net for the wraparound attempt, and the puck went off goalie Scott Darling in the net.

Video: CHI@COL: Landeskog grabs his own rebound, pots SHG

That brought life back to the Colorado bench and belief that the club could comeback against the Western Conference's top dog.

"It was an absolute unbelievable individual effort by him," Duchene said of Landeskog's 17th tally of the year. "After that one, now we're within one and you feel like you're playing with casino money because you scored two on the PK. After that, we knew we had to find some even strength or on the power play, and fortunately we found [one] even strength and then a big one in OT by EJ."

It was the first time the Avalanche had scored two short-handed goals in a game since Jan. 23, 2016 at Dallas and was the seventh instance where it tallied twice on the PK in the same period, tying a franchise mark.

Duchene's was a rare penalty-kill goal for the forward, as he had only scored once before in his NHL career while the squad was a man down on the ice. That came in his 14th contest during his rookie season on Oct. 30, 2009 at San Jose.

The Avs alternate captain wasn't surprised about that fact when it was brought up to him after the game. When it comes to special teams, he spends more of his time on the power play than the penalty kill.

"I don't play PK. So yeah, I can believe that," Duchene said with a grin on his face when he learned it was his second career man-down marker. "I don't play it that much. I come out for the faceoff and then I come off. I think I had one year where I played the PK, and it was the lockout year, so I can believe it."

Video: Duchene on his short-handed marker

The shorties were ultimately the spark Colorado needed to come back against Chicago.

"I think the difference tonight is that we didn't look at it that we had to get three goals," Duchene said. "I think we just kept with the process. That is what we've done in the past when we've had good teams, stick with it and stay in the moment.

"It was a great effort. I think it shows the potential that we have as a team here."

Despite the three-goal deficit, the Avs were playing well and just needed a break to go their way. They got it and things started to fall in place for the squad, which finished with a season-high 51 shots and had an 84-48 edge in shot attempts.

"I loved the way our team pushed back," Bednar said. "I thought we played hard the whole night. Pretty dangerous offensively, everyone was pulling the same direction tonight. Duchene had a goal and [two assists]. I like our intensity. I liked a lot of things about that game."


Mikko Rantanen missed his first game of the season, as he was out of the lineup Tuesday night with a lower-body injury.

Rantanen had played in all 73 games with the Avs since being called up from the San Antonio Rampage of American Hockey League on Oct. 24. The No. 10 overall draft pick from 2015 spent the first week of the year in the AHL after missing the Avs' entire training camp and preseason with an ankle injury.

"He got hit with a puck at the end of pregame skate. He's day-to-day," Bednar reported. "We have a bunch of guys who are day-to-day, all from the same type of injuries, lower-body stuff."

Rene Bourque replaced Rantanen on the Avalanche's top line with Nathan MacKinnon and Sven Andrighetto.

Rantanen is the latest Avs player to catch the injury bug, as both forward Blake Comeau and defenseman Anton Lindholm injured their legs in Sunday's outing at Minnesota.

Video: Coach Bednar's postgame press conference


Defenseman Duncan Siemens played his first game of the season and the second of his NHL career on Tuesday night.

Siemens, who made his league debut on April 11, 2015 against the same Chicago Blackhawks, was recalled along with forward Rocco Grimaldi on Monday from the San Antonio Rampage.

The Avs' No. 11 overall draft pick from 2011, Siemens spent the contest on the club's third-defensive pairing with Cody Goloubef. He finished with one shot and two hits in 10:28 of ice time, which included 2:21 on the penalty kill.

"I thought Duncan did a nice job. I really noticed him more in the first period," Bednar said. "I thought he was moving the puck, hitting his first option a lot, just making the right plays, the simple play, and I didn't see him make any big mistakes."

Tuesday marked Grimaldi's second career game with the Avalanche and the 29th of his NHL career. He played his lone contest with Colorado on Dec. 3 versus the Dallas Stars.

Grimaldi was on a line with center Tyson Jost and left wing Gabriel Landeskog, and he nearly scored in the first period on a wraparound chance. The Anaheim, California, native then had another chance on a breakaway in the middle frame that saw the puck hit off the post and roll along the goal line before Scott Darling covered it up.

"I really liked Grimaldi tonight. He can skate," Bednar noted. "I thought he was all over the puck early, had a bunch of great scoring chances, taking pucks to the net. Really good speed and tenacity to his game. He's real quick and agile and mobile and tracking their guys down when they have the puck. He always seems like he's on top of you and smothering you, and he creates some chances off that."

Grimaldi's final stat line included three shots on goal and six total attempts in 10:29 of work.

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