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Duchene Keeps Du-ing It

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

The buzzer beating shots of March Madness have moved from the hardwood to the ice. At least that was the case on Sunday night at Pepsi Center.

Matt Duchene scored the latest overtime goal franchise history as the puck from his shot in the low slot crossed the goal line with 0.3 seconds remaining and lifted the Avalanche to a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks.

Duchene’s second goal of the night is officially registered at 4:59 of the overtime period, one-second later then the previous franchise record at 4:58, set by Ville Nieminen on Jan. 17, 2002 against Phoenix and equaled by Ryan O’Reilly last year on Feb. 10, 2012 against Carolina.

“It feels awesome,” Duchene said. “I didn’t think it was going to count. I know the buzzer here sometimes is a little late. Obviously, you’re really excited at first, but [you’re] holding back a bit in case it doesn’t count.”

There was a little bit on tension for about a minute as the goal was being reviewed, and the entire Colorado bench patiently waiting to celebrate on the ice. But that tension was quickly turned to relief as the Avs players saw that the puck did cross the goal line before the clock hit triple-zeros on the jumbotron above center ice.

Moments later the official decision was made as the referee pointed towards center ice, signaling a good-goal.

“I had a feeling that it was in, but you never know,” said Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog. “It was a pretty good feeling when I saw the ref point at the [center-ice] circle.”

Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco said: “I was excited. I thought the shot had beat the buzzer, I knew that. I just wanted to make sure that buzzer was on time with the game clock.”

Semyon Varalmov and Matt Duchene celebrate after Duchene scored the winning-goal in the final second of overtime on March 10 against San Jose.

The winning goal occurred after Sacco used his only timeout with 11.2 seconds remaining in the extra stanza and after the Avalanche kept the puck in the San Jose zone off the faceoff. The original shot by PA Parenteau from the point was blocked in front of Sharks net, and the puck took a bounce onto the stick of Duchene, who then swiped it over the left shoulder of goaltender Antti Niemi.

“The puck was sitting there off [the Sharks’ Dan] Boyle’s stick, and I just reached in and tried to club at it,” Duchene said of his third career overtime tally. “I got underneath it, and it was able to go over his (Niemi’s) shoulder. It was a pretty ugly goal, but we’ll take it, that’s for sure.”

His first goal of the night came in much prettier fashion, thanks to some tape-to-tape passing across the ice in the first period. The sequence began after Parenteau received the puck at the right circle from Landeskog and quickly fed it to the other side for Duchene, who fired a wrist shot top shelf.

Duchene – who is now on a three-game goal streak – scoring the overtime-winner shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise as he has been downright amazing on home ice this season. He has 18 point (eight goals and 10 assists) in 11 games at Pepsi Center and has scored in three straight and in five of the last six games on the Avalanche’s home ice.

Special Teams Stepping Up

The Colorado special teams did their job against the Sharks, scoring a power play goal while also not allowing one to be scored on them.

Duchene’s goal in the first period marked the second straight home game that the Avs have scored on the power play. It was the first time this season that the team has scored with the man advantage in back-to-back games in Denver.

The penalty kill unit went 5-for-5 in the game and held strong during a key situation in the second period, killing off nearly back-to-back-to-back penalties.

Colorado has the best home penalty kill squad in the league at 93.6 percent. They have killed off 44 of opposing teams’ 47 power play chances at Pepsi Center.

Varly Strong In Net

Goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 36 saves for his eighth win of season.

He was particularly good in the third period as he made eight saves, including a sprawling glove stop with less than 11 minutes left. He denied all three shots he faced in overtime

“He has been solid, he looks sharp, he looks energized and he has been really good for us. That is what you want from your goaltender,” Sacco said of Varlamov. “You want him on his toes and he has been like that lately.”

Varlamov has started in 20 of Colorado 24 games this season, including all 11 home contests.

More Notes

Matt Duchene scored his third career overtime goal…His other OT tallies came on Dec. 23, 2011 vs. Tampa Bay and Dec. 17, 2010 vs. Ottawa.

•Colorado won its fifth straight home game and improved to 8-2-1 at Pepsi Center this season.

•P.A. Parenteau extended his career-best point streak to six games (2g/8a) with a pair of assists tonight…It’s the longest point streak by an Avalanche player this season…In fact, only one Colorado player had a scoring streak of this length a year ago, Gabriel Landeskog, who tallied a point in six consecutive games from Feb. 17-27, 2012.

•Ryan O’Reilly has goals in back-to-back games (2g) and points in three straight contests (2g/2a)…After going scoreless in his first two games this year, he now has four points in his last three contests.

•John Mitchell extended his point streak to three games (2g/1a), tying his season and career high…It’s the second three-game scoring streak of the season and fifth of his NHL career.

•The Avalanche has scored a power-play goal in two straight home games for the first time this season.

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